Progressive Christian author Rachel Held Evans, who the New York Times says "gave voice to a generation of wandering evangelicals wrestling with their faith," died in Tennessee on Saturday after spending two weeks in a hospital for treatment for an infection and brain seizures. She was 37. Sarah Bessey, a writer and friend of Evans', says she died in Nashville early Saturday, surrounded by her husband and friends. "I keep hoping it’s a nightmare from which I’ll awake," husband Dan Evans said in a statement. "Rachel’s presence in this world was a gift to us all and her work will long survive her." Bessey said Evans challenged the evangelical community by addressing sexism and racism and "championing voices of people who have been marginalized in the church," including the LGBTQ community.
A resident of Dayton, Tenn., Evans' books include Faith Unraveled, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, and Searching for Sunday. Evans' website said she wrote about "faith, doubt and life in the Bible Belt." Evans served on former President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. She spoke at churches, conferences, and universities around the country. Dan Evans wrote on his wife's blog April 19 that she was placed in a medically induced coma after her brain experienced seizures during treatment for an infection. Doctors tried to reduce swelling in her brain Friday but could not save her. Bessey called her friend courageous, loving, and passionate. "I can't imagine a world without her voice," Bessey told the AP. "She was leading in a space where a lot of people in the church were silent." Evans was the mother of two young children.
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