Tuesday Prayer from Baptist Women in Ministry

The risen, living Christ

Calls me by my name;

Comes to the loneliness within me;

Heals that which is wounded in me;

Comforts that which grieves in me;

Seeks for that which is lost within me;

Releases me from that which has dominion over me;

Cleanses me of that which does not belong to me;

Renews that which feels drained within me;

Awakens that which is asleep in me;

Names that which is formless within me;

Empowers that which is newborn within me;

Consecrates and guides that which is strong within me;

Restores me to this world which needs me;

Reaches out in endless love to others through me.

— Flora Slossan Wuellner

Tuesday Prayer from Baptist Women in Ministry

God,
We are your children.
You know each one of us, and in our uniqueness you name us;
then you call us together and shape us into family.
You raise us up in the way we should go.
You ask us to grow up and to grow together.
You bring mothers and fathers,
brothers and sisters to walk your way alongside us.
Although this life together may not be easy,
teach us to be true companions,
seeking your kingdom, living your desires,
being your body.
As we turn a new page in our family story,
open our hearts to welcome all who are called
and all who simply come,
just as you have welcomed us.
Thank you
for making room for us all
inside your house.
Amen.

–Nikki Finkelstein-Blair,  from her sermon “The Apple and the Tree” in The World is Waiting for You: Celebrating the 50th Ordination Anniversary of Addie Davis.

What Can She Do? by Tammy Abee Blom

Some conversations stick with you. At a recent social event I was making small talk when a lady asked, “What do you do?” I told her that I was an ordained minister. She asked what denomination, and when I told her Baptist, she breathed, “Oh” with the sub-context of “Really? I didn’t think they did that.” Then she asked, “So do you pastor a church?” I explained that I am the at home parent to my two girls, I write for BWIM, and I volunteer in my church.” She shared, “My niece is going to a divinity program in the fall. She wants to be a minister.” I declared my delight, and then her next comment surprised me. She asked, “But what can she do if she becomes a minister?”

I was silent in the face of her question. What ran through my mind were the faces of friends and colleagues who serve as chaplains, pastors, professors, leaders of non-profits, staff ministers, and on and on. I didn’t know what to say because I didn’t know where to begin. She filled the silence by saying, “Well, I know she could go into missions. I know women can be missionaries.” And then it occurred to me. She really doesn’t know what options are available to women in ministry because her church experience must not include women clergy. I answered her question in a way that I perceived would intersect with her church experience. I asked, “Do you know what men in ministry do?” She said, “Oh yes.” I replied, “Your niece can do that.” She asked, “Preaching, funerals, weddings? She could do all of that?” I answered, “Yes. She can do all of that and more.”

I have encountered negative responses to my calling at one time or another; and by the tone of the ongoing conversation, I expected this woman to question why I was ordained or why her niece was pursuing something that could not become a ‘real job’. Instead, I was faced with the chance to put a face to women in ministry and to give testimony to how it works. I continue to question my answer because “What can she do?” is such a broad and far reaching question. I could have told story after story of amazing women in ministry and how God uses them to further the kingdom. Instead I chose to plant the seed that women can serve churches.

I am thrilled the lady cares so dearly for her niece that she is asking, “What can she do?” and she is permitting her niece to change her understanding of what a minister looks like. I don’t know if I will ever meet this lady again but I sure would like to know what path her niece’s ministry takes; and I hope there are many women in ministry along her way who give faces to the many ways God can use us.

Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, regular contributor to BWIM’s blog, mother of two amazing daughters, teacher for children’s Sunday School, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.

 

*Pictured, from top to bottom: Rev. Tammy Abee Blom, Rev. Courtney Allen – Minister of Community Ministry and Missions at First Baptist Church, Dalton, GA, Rev. Lauren Waggoner – Minster to Children at First Baptist Church, Marietta, GA, and Rev. Jessica Prophitt – United States Air Force Chaplain

 

Tuesday Prayer from Baptist Women in Ministry

To be fully human, fully myself,
To accept all that I am, all that you envision,
This is my prayer.
Walk with me out to the rim of life,
Beyond security.
Take me to the exquisite edge of courage
And release me to become.

Sue Monk Kidd

A Hug from Missy by Pam Durso

I first met Missy in 2010. We were both attending a Baptist Women in Ministry of Georgia gathering. At lunch that day, Missy was presented with the Sara Owen Etheridge Scholarship. During the presentation, the BWIM of Georgia president briefly shared about Missy’s work with refugee women and about her dream to make that her life work. The story touched my heart in ways I can’t even explain, and when the lunch was over, I made my way over to Missy and said, “I need to give you a hug.” And so our friendship began—with a hug.

Missy ordination 1Over the next few years, we shared a good number of hugs. Missy was a student at McAfee School of Theology, and my office is on the McAfee campus. She often made her way to my office, and we sat and talked. During those years, she began her work in Uganda—living there for a summer and then for a semester. Traveling as often as she could to the country that had captured her heart, to minister with and to the refugee women with whom she had fallen in love.

When Missy was back in Georgia, she always returned to my office, teaching me about the geopolitical systems that had such a devastating impact on women and children, telling me heartbreaking stories about the women she had grown to love there.

In the summer of 2012, Missy was commissioned to serve in Uganda as field personnel with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Her passion had officially become her life’s work. On December 31, I attended her ordination service, a beautiful, simple service. Near the end of the service, I made my way to the front to participate in the laying on of hands, but when my turn came, I instead wrap my arms around Missy, hugging her close to me and offering her a few words of blessing.

Missy and Pam 2013Missy spent the early months of 2013 traveling and raising funds for her new ministry role. I saw her occasionally during those busy days, thankful that she made the time to visit with me. A few weeks before she was scheduled to leave for Uganda she stopped by to see me. Missy walked into my office wearing a lovely black coat. My first words to her were, “Oh, Missy, tell me where you got your coat. I have been looking for a black coat and haven’t been able to find one that I like.” And Missy replied, “When I leave for Uganda, I will give you my coat. I won’t need a coat there.”  A few weeks later, on her last days in the states, Missy came by for one last visit, one last hug—and she brought me her black coat.

We Atlanta folks had an unusually harsh winter this past year—we lived through Snowocalypse in January 2014 and experienced much cooler temperatures than is normal into April. All winter long, I took my “new” black coat out of the closet and put it on before heading out the door. And every single time that I slipped my arms into that coat and pulled it around me, I thought of Missy. I felt her presence. I imagined her arms around me, hugging me close.

Missy’s black coat was a gift, and not a just a gift of warm clothing. That coat is for me a symbol of love and the mysterious ways in which God connects us with each other. It is a reminder of grace and friendship. It is a reminder that no matter how far away Missy is—she is still close in my heart.

Pam Durso is executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, Atlanta, Georgia.

Receiving Grace by Brittany Riddle

As ministers, we have been taught to keep the question, “How can I be of service to others?” at the forefront of our minds.  It’s a great question—one that keeps us from living self-centered lives.  I even have symbols in my home and office that remind me of that question every day.  Most notably, a small towel with my name on it, representing servanthood that was given to me when I graduated from seminary.  Underneath it is the quote, “Ministry is finding a towel with your name on it.”  Our calling as ministers is to serve.  Sometimes we serve with grace and humility; sometimes we serve to the point of exhaustion.  Rarely do we gracefully RECEIVE.

After a recent injury, I had the opportunity to be on the receiving end of peoples’ generosity and care, and I quickly realized that is a difficult and uncomfortable place for me to be.  I do not want to be a burden to others, I tell myself.  I do not want to be dependent.  And I certainly do not want to owe anyone anything.

After assuring someone with a very kind offer of help that I didn’t really need that help, I realized that my discomfort with receiving grace affects my relationships with others and also probably limits my openness to God’s grace.  I had bought into society’s message that I need to be completely self-reliant and stubbornly independent.  I was not allowing others in my community to care for me in the same way that I would care for them in a similar circumstance.  I was saying “no” and shutting people out when what my body and soul needed most was for me to say, “yes,” and allow people give a helping hand.

It reminds me of the time when Jesus accepted expensive oil to be poured at his feet despite Judas’ objections of wastefulness.  Jesus didn’t NEED the perfume Mary poured for him, but he RECEIVED the perfume graciously with appreciation for Mary’s kindness.  He continued to build a sense of community with those around him.  He said “yes” in such a way that a ministry opportunity was created rather than saying “no” and shutting Mary down, negating her generosity and possibly embarrassing her.

I am thankful to be surrounded by loving and caring people who help teach me to say “yes” to receiving grace even when my natural tendency is to do something all by myself.  Their offers of care and help continue to teach me to embrace the community over the individual.  They teach me humility and respond with grace when I ask for help.  They teach me to take care of myself with their gentle, but persistent urgings to go home and rest after a long day of work.

As a minister, I am called to serve.  But to be able to receive grace and care has strengthened my relationships and sense of community with the people I serve in a whole new way.  Thanks be to God.

Brittany Riddle is the Minister to Adults at Vinton Baptist Church in Vinton, Virginia.

Brittany Riddle is the Minister to Adults at Vinton Baptist Church in Vinton, Virginia.

Tuesday Prayer from Baptist Women in Ministry

O God
help me to believe
the truth about myself–
no matter how beautiful it is!

              –Macrina Wiederkehr