As an Orthodox theologian, Elisabeth Behr-Sigel has written several works (all in French): Priére et Sainteté dans l'eglise Russe (Prayer and Holiness in the Russian Church); Alexandre Boukarev: Un Théologien de l'eglise orthodoxe russe en dialogue avec le monde moderne (Alexander Boukarev: A Theologian of the Russian Orthodox Church in Dialogue with the Modern World); Le Lieu du Couer - Initiation la spiritualité de l'eglise orthodoxe (The Place of the Heart: Initiation to the Spirituality of the Orthodox Church); and finally, Lev Gillet: Un moine de l'eglise d'orient (Lev Gillet, a Monk of the Eastern Church). But she is especially known over the past several years for her involvement in the reflection on the place of women in the Church.
Refusing all polemical arguments, she encourages the churches to engage in true theological reflections on this topic and to include it in the various conferences and seminars organized by the Orthodox Church as well as the Roman Catholic Church and, of course, the ecumenical World Council of Churches.
In Paris, for many years, she has led a small reflection group where her views are well thought out and thoroughly researched. Her personal commitment to the dialogue about the place of women in the Church is motivated in part by her sense that the current attitudes of the Church in this regard might distance the younger generation.
Elisabeth Behr-Sigel was born in 1907, in a suburb of Strasbourg, France. It was in Strasbourg that she studied philosophy and theology. She also received a Doctorat (en lettres) before being ordained as pastor in the Reformed Church of Alsace-Lorraine where she served the parish of Ville-Climant.
It was during her studies that Elisabeth encountered and discovered Orthodoxy. A long spiritual pilgrimage culminated in her entry into Orthodoxy in the early 1930s.
A mother of three children, she is also a grandmother and great-grandmother of many children. In August 1996, she became a great-great-grandmother.
Elisabeth had a teaching career in public schools. She also taught at St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris, as well as at the Ecumenical Institute of the Catholic University in Paris. Finally, we must not forget the assistance she offered to many Jewish people during the Second World War. For ten years, she was vice president of L'ACAT (Christian Action for the Abolition of Torture) and today she continues to work on the theological commission of the organization.
Editors' Note: Elisabeth Behr-Sigel is a member of the Honorary Board of the St. Nina Quarterly. She is the author of The Ministry of Women in the Church and The Place of the Heart: Initiation to the Spirituality of the Orthodox Church. [Her works also include Discerning the Signs of the Times and The Ordination of Women in the Orthodox Church, coauthored with Bishop Kallistos Ware.]