Progressive Christian author Rachel Held Evans, 37, dies

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. | Progressive Christian author Rachel Held Evans 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 morning, surrounded by her husband and friends.

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.

Evans was a resident of Dayton, Tennessee. Her 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 Barack 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 Associated Press in a phone interview. “She was leading in a space where a lot of people in the church were silent.”

Evans was the mother of two children. Funeral arrangements are pending.