Elizabeth W. McLaughlin ’98, Ph.D., professor of communication, has spent the past 20 years shaping young minds through teaching communication and writing at Bethel. She is known for integrating community outreach and real-world solutions into the classroom, and took that concept abroad last summer, when she helped lead a task force trip to France, using storytelling as a ministry tool. However, this winter, she achieved a new accomplishment: having her first book published.

“Women’s Voices of Duty and Destiny: Religious Speeches Transcending Gender,” released by Peter Lang Publishers, showcases 14 women leaders and their public speeches, motivated by religious values. It’s the first book in a series, Speaking of Religion, edited by Dann Brown, Ph.D., Grove City College, Pa.

McLaughlin worked on the book largely during her sabbatical, while she served as scholar-in-residence at St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind. She says the most difficult thing about the process was getting the necessary permissions to have the speeches reproduced, especially Mother Teresa’s.
The collection features women from different faith traditions, and geographical locations, addressing issues of human dignity from the 19th century through today.


“Each speaker transcends the traditional gender roles of her culture to speak for the transcendent value of human dignity,” says McLaughlin. “Women of all ages and walks of life can learn from the varied voices of women who have helped change society through the moral authority of their lives and examples.”


In the book, McLaughlin presents introductions and public address transcripts of women speakers according to the themes of faith, society, education, reform, freedom and peacemaking. This collection represents a diversity of times, issues, faiths, cultures, ethnicities and political viewpoints. It’s intended to be a companion text for students studying gender, religion, rhetoric and history.

“There are so many messages about how women can succeed and what they have to overcome,” says McLaughlin. “Religious values often are dismissed as only limiting women. But, as this collection shows, belief in the divine and values of faith drive an impulse to speak into the public square to promote and celebrate human freedom and dignity.”

In addition to teaching, McLaughlin has served as a department chair as well as director of Bethel’s Writing Center. She earned her Ph.D., in communication and rhetorical studies, from Regent University and her Master of Ministry from Bethel College. Before Bethel, she served in four different advertising agencies, including her own, and several nonprofits in public relations.