Addressing issues of gender and justice across the globe 

and working towards the full partnership of women and men in ministry. 

By Rev. Dr. Norma Cook Everist, Professor, Wartburg Seminary

The Persistent Voice is an ongoing conversation of women and men at Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, that reaches around the world.

It began with the voice of one woman, Rhonda Hanisch, who was waiting for a call to ordained ministry. She came into my office at Wartburg Seminary in the fall of 1989 and said, “We need a networking newsletter to keep the women waiting much longer for calls than men, connected.” She said it should have the word “Voice” in it.  The next day she came back again and said “Persistent”….Persistent Voice!

So, I said, “Let’s do it.” If Rhonda named what was to be born, Rev. Juel Piece financed the birthing costs.  That fall she was worship leader at the annual Women of the ELCA Bible Study education event held on campus.  Just shortly after Rhonda’s visit, Juel said to me, I would like to donate my honorarium to something to help women.  I said, “Thank you. I have just the thing….”

How long would we publish?  “As long as necessary” we answered.  So, each fall we give an open invitation to students to gather and we ask the question, “Is The Persistent Voice still necessary?” And each year, there is a resounding “Yes!”  We had no idea we would go so long.   From the very beginning men and women have joined in the mission together. The first poem we published was written by a man.  The collection of stories, news, poetry and reviews has become a vast reservoir of creative writing, and, of the lives of women and men in the church this past almost quarter century.  The Persistent Voice has chronicled events such as the first Lutheran woman bishop, the beginning of diaconal ministry in the ELCA, women becoming seminary presidents, men taking on roles that social norms had prevented them for assuming before. We told the news as it happened. So much so, that the Iowa Women’s Archives of the University of Iowa Libraries in Iowa City as well as the University Archives at Iowa State University in Ames two years ago both requested copies of this collection. All of the volumes of publication are also in the Wartburg Seminary Library.

Following years of being a 11-x14 newsletter on bright goldenrod paper that readers avidly looked for in the mail, The Persistent Voice became both a print and web journal. Now we take the blog form so that we can publish continuously and keep the conversation going. It’s home is the Wartburg Seminary website.  Scroll down under “Resources.” The basic familiar categories remain the same: Feature Articles, Signs of the Times, the Global Scene, Poetry, Reviews (Books and Multi-media), Spirited Action, and Challenges.

WE INVITE you to contribute your writing in any of these areas. The subject matter can be as broad as the lives, experiences and vision or our readers. News, reviews, poetry, challenges, features and more should in some way relate to the mission statement: addressing issues of gender and justice across the globe and working towards the full partnership of women and men in ministry.  Send submissions to ncookeverist@wartburgseminary.edu.  We will edit (so don’t worry about your writing form), and make sure you see the edited version before it is posted under your name.

How many students have served on the staff of The Persistent Voice over the past 25 years?  Over 200!  Many, having gained writing and editing experience, have gone on to publish other things. They have come to Wartburg, served, and gone forth to all kinds of service in the church and world.

The Persistent Voice


  1. Tricia Turner (1977)

    Norma — I thank God for your years of ministry, leadership, teaching, guiding, mentoring, and just BEING the servant of Christ that you are and always have been. You have shaped my ability to serve as a pastor in vital ways. Continue to be Persistent and to raise the Voice of encouragement and support for many years to come. Bless you, Tricia

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