Word of the Week

A New Day in Baptist Life


A unusual sighting occurred last week near Bryson City, North Carolina on the grounds of the beautiful mountain retreat called Sabbath House, ten Baptist women who are pastors or co-pastors of congregations were together. I was privileged to be among them.

Upon first arriving, we kept looking at each other saying, "I can't believe there are so many of us now and that we are all in the same room!" And, the feelings of amazing continued throughout the week.

Being a Baptist woman in ministry, especially when you feel God has called you to senior leadership in congregations is no easy undertaking.

It's hard before it even begins. It is not as if you can snap your fingers after receiving your MDiv and jobs come running to you. It is not as if there are dozens of churches lining up to affirm your call to ministry through ordination.

Then, when the congregation comes along that gives you a chance to do what you've always most wanted to do, it is still not easy. It is not as if you attend associational and national gatherings to find faces and faces of other women who do your job exactly. It is not as if you can ever allow yourself to your work half-heartedly because when you enter a pulpit, when you enter a hospital room, when you attend a Baptist association meeting, there are always those close by who say you are "too young" or "not the right gender" for your job.  And, the typical "women in ministry" gatherings when you are a senior pastor just don't seem to fit the weight of the world that is on your shoulders as you lead.

Yet, to truly live into your becoming as a pastor and remain in the Baptist church, you have to get past all of this.

Complaining about the difficulties isn't a helpful state of existence. You can't be angry that your male colleagues have an easier path. You have to just settle in to being at the top of your game whenever you are called upon. You have to wish your female colleagues well, but stay your own course. And,  you have to love your work with your particular congregation because this is all that matters anyway.

I loved the gathering of women pastors last week because all of us came to the group on this same page. These are our shared experiences. We love being pastors. We want to be good at what we do, really good. And, there is nothing about our being that we'd call angry. We know how blessed we are, and we just want to do our job.

I left the retreat being reminded again of the wonderful Baptist churches across the country that have a like-minded focus to Washington Plaza. I left grateful for the leadership of the Alliance of Baptists for putting this event together. I left the retreat excited about the next opportunity that all of us might have to gather.

And, as I settle into the many tasks that are on my plate today, I do so holding the joys and sorrows of April, Joyce, Mandy, Amy, Abby, Amy, Dorisanne, Amy, Julie, Marsha and Paula in my thoughts and prayers.  I am so thankful to have made some new fabulous friends. Who knew it was just what we all needed?