There is a wilderness space in which misfits who flummox the Christian status quo gather. That wilderness has lost a hero–one who challenged the hierarchy behind the city walls, the patriarchy under the steeples. She insisted women, people of color, the LGBTQ community and the poor were the real elders of the church. A better ally didn’t exist. She was Rachel Held Evans, prophet and preacher, author and friend, generous beyond all comprehension.
When she died on May 4, at the shocking age of 37, the Twitter hashtag #becauseofRHE became a different kind of gathering place, for stories of outcasts she welcomed back in, doubters she comforted, friends she celebrated, careers she launched, critics she challenged–every last one a witness to her rare legacy.
Our community believes Rachel received but one welcome as she entered eternity: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest.”
This appears in the May 20, 2019 issue of TIME.