Watching Summer Fade by Merianna Neely Harrelson

Merianna Neely Harrison I was sitting on our back porch a few nights ago, watching the puppies sniff the wind and smile. I knew that the cool breeze meant that summer was fading away. There was certainly something inside of me that sighed with disappointment that we have to get back into a routine in which bedtime has to be stuck to and lazy summer nights are gone. There was another side of me that sighed with relief as I felt the cool breeze, a relief from 110 degree days and long, hot runs.

This is the first fall in twenty-nine years that I won’t be in a classroom (do you think that will last?) as either a teacher or student and thus marks the shift from student to minister more fully in my mind. The shift is even more evident to me as I watch the yellow school bus roll down the road full of kids and then see my car sitting in the driveway, resting after so many weeks upon weeks of commuting.

Just as my seminary professors prophesied, my days and weeks are already full to the brim. The time spent sitting in three-hour classes has already been filled. But along with a full schedule, I also have a full heart as I await what the fall breeze has in store. The rhythm of ministry is different than the rhythm of teaching and learning. There is an unexpectedness that is constantly right around the corner. Plans are made to be modified and adjusted to walk or meander alongside seeking evidence of the divine in daily life and hoping for revelation.

I put my nose to the wind and smile just like the pups.

Merianna Neely Harrelson is pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Fellowship, Lexington, South Carolina. This post first appeared on her blog

Missing Gwen by Pam Durso

Gwen and Pam

It has now been a year since that moment on August, 27, 2013 when I learned that Gwen had died. She was my friend. She was my pastor. She was my Panera Bread lunch date, my fellow dreamer, my encourager. And I have missed her, am missing her still.

Over the past year I have gone several times to the cemetery to “visit” her—oh, I know she isn’t there. But my heart is drawn there. In the odd mysteriousness that is grieving, I have discovered that being in the cemetery brings me comfort. There I have felt free to talk to her, to update her on our church, to share with her about the happenings in my life, and to tell her how much I miss her.

The last Saturday of June—after our Baptist Women in Ministry gathering and all of the events of General Assembly, I found myself driving to the cemetery. I hadn’t been to visit in a while, not since her grave marker had been put in place, and I was eager to see it and to “talk” to her.

I parked where I always park—and walked toward the place where her grave is. But I didn’t see her marker. I walked up and down the row—looking for it. It was nowhere to be found. I moved to the nearby rows. It was not there either. I searched the entire section. I walked to the back section, examining each grave marker, looking for her name. Not there either. Not anywhere. I knew she wasn’t up in the front section, but I went there anyway, searching for her, paying careful attention to the newest grave markers. But I couldn’t find Gwen.

And that was when I started talking to her, “Okay, Gwen, where are you? I can’t find you. Where have you gone? I know, I know where you should be. But you aren’t there. Where are you!?”

When I stopped for a moment, I heard myself saying those words, and I realized that I finally was saying out loud what I had been feeling all year. My heart has called out to her in these hard days of grieving—wanting to know where she is, where she has gone. My faith offers me assurance that she is with God, but my heart still hasn’t figured out what that means. My heart still cries out—wanting her to be here with me.

The next day at church I told my story to her husband, Charles, explaining how I had looked and looked for Gwen but couldn’t find her. He assured me that I had been right about the location. Gwen was where she was supposed to be. But the grave marker had had a mistake on it and had been removed in order to make the correction.

I now know for certain “where” Gwen is in the cemetery, but day-by-day I am learning, my heart is slowly learning, that my friend, Gwen Brown, is with the God she loved, the God she served. Gwen is in a place where she is loved, a place where she is healed and whole.

And I am here—still missing her.

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

Tuesday Prayer: For Such a Time as This by Sharyn Dowd

God, we confess this morning that we are no different from the people of Ferguson, Missouri. We are fearful, angry, and suspicious of people who are different from ourselves. We are a collection of victims and perpetrators, not a community of sisters and brothers. Lord, we pray for peace in Ferguson and in our towns and we pray for the courage to take the time to listen to each other instead of making assumptions about each other.

Open our eyes.

Shine the light of your love on our darkened minds that we might put aside our preferences and seek your will.

May your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth.

Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Excerpted from “For Such a Time as This,” by Sharyn Dowd, Pastor for Caring and Serving Ministries at First Baptist Church, Decatur, Georgia. 

Thank You from Pam Durso

Your encouragement makes this work possible, whether it be through prayer or financial support. THANK YOU!”

On this final day of GIVING WEEK, Baptist Women in Ministry invites you to participate in this important work that God is doing. One of the best ways you can offer support is by signing on to be a monthly giver! Monthly gifts provide dependable income for our work and allow BWIM to continue advocating, networking, and connecting! Small monthly gifts of $10 or $20 or larger monthly gifts of $50 or $75 makes a significant difference! 

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This Work Matters by Emily Hull McGee

“I give because I stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before me and paved the way, reaping the benefits of people like my Mom who has followed her call with tenacity and faithfulness, cracking the stained-glass ceiling as a 60 year old pastor. . .I give because this work matters.”


Emily Hull McGee is Minister to Young Adults at Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky

Baptist Women in Ministry welcomes you to be one of our monthly givers! Monthly gifts provide dependable income for our work and allow BWIM to continue being an advocate, a network, and a connection for Baptist women ministers! Small monthly gifts of $10 or $20 or larger monthly gifts of $50 or $75 make a significant difference! To join Emily in being a monthly giver, fill out the form below.

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What Do You Want to Be for Career Day? by Ruth Perkins Lee

DorieWhen my oldest daughter was in first grade, I asked her, “What do you want to be for career day?” Her final choice: a preacher. And off to school she went wearing my Baptist Women in Ministry This is What a Preacher Looks Like t-shirt and blue jean shorts, carrying a fake smart phone and a Bible. I proudly snapped pictures of her in the career-day parade.

Honestly, I would have been just as proud had my child wanted to dress up as a missionary. But for me, well, it never occurred to me that I could dress up like a preacher. One generation made quite a difference in my family.

My daughter knew she could be a preacher because her mom is one. I discovered much later in my life that I could be one after I encountered women preachers.

My family is a monthly supporter of Baptist Women in Ministry. Giving was a very intentional decision that we made together as a family. We have had family discussions about BWIM and the work that happens in, through, and because of BWIM. We support the network that is created, the community that is formed, and the resources that are offered.

In supporting Baptist Women in Ministry, our hope is that others may catch a glimpse of their callings in the great cloud of witnesses that lead by example, by empowering others, and by making room for all who hear the call of ministry from God.

Ruth Perkins Lee is director of ministries for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Georgia.

Baptist Women in Ministry welcomes you to be one of our monthly givers! Monthly gifts provide dependable income for our work and allow BWIM to continue being an advocate, a network, and a connection for Baptist women ministers! Small monthly gifts of $10 or $20 or larger monthly gifts of $50 or $75 makes a significant difference! 

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I Give Because by Katrina Brooks

Katrina Brooks is the Youth Pastor at Madison Heights Baptist Church in Madison Heights, Virginia. She has also served as Pastor of North Broad Baptist Church in Rome, Georgia. Katrina is a graduate of Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. Here she is pictured with her children, Tara and Joseph.

 

Baptist Women in Ministry welcomes you to be one of our monthly givers! Monthly gifts provide dependable income for our work and allow BWIM to continue being an advocate, a network, and a connection for Baptist women ministers! Small monthly gifts of $10 or $20 or larger monthly gifts of $50 or $75 make a significant difference! To join Katrina in being a monthly giver, fill out the form below.

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It Began One Afternoon by Courtney Allen

Courtney Allen weddingIt began one afternoon while sitting around a table with a number of fellow Baptist women ministers. We were talking and giving thanks for the work of Baptist Women in Ministry in our own lives, all the while dreaming about the ways BWIM can continue to illuminate and nurture the gifts of women called to ministry. We then began to talk about how such work is supported. Several of us around the table said, “We may not be able to give much, but we can be monthly givers to something we believe in and know first hand the impact of.”

When I think about how deeply my life has been shaped by the opportunities and work of Baptist Women in Ministry, I can’t help but want to make that possible for other women—those wondering if they just might have the gifts and call to Gospel ministry, those ordained and seeking a call to serve in ministry, and those who need to be reminded that they are not alone in their calling.  But, truth be told, I’m not just a monthly contributor to BWIM for the sake of other women in ministry or even for myself.  I’m a monthly contributor because I fundamentally believe that the Church can be such a richer, more dynamic, and authentic witness to the Gospel when the gifts of Baptist Women in Ministry are fully utilized! Giving monthly to the work of BWIM is one small way I can be a part of the work of God, not just in the lives of women, but in Christ’s Church—a church in world yearning for love and authenticity and embrace.

Baptist Women in Ministry welcomes you to be one of our monthly givers! Monthly gifts provide dependable income for our work and allow BWIM to continue being an advocate, a network, and a connection for Baptist women ministers! Small monthly gifts of $10 or $20 or larger monthly gifts of $50 or $75 make a significant difference! To join Courtney in being a monthly giver, fill out the form below.

Courtney Allen is minister of community ministry and Missions at First Baptist Church, Dalton, Georgia.

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It is Important by Charity Roberson

Charity Roberson has served in a variety of ministry positions, including a campus minister and pastor. She is now equipping coach with the Virginia Baptist Mission Board. Charity completed her Doctor of Ministry degree in May 2014. The focus her doctoral research and writing was women in ministry and leadership. Listen to Charity’s words–and hear why she is a monthly contributor to Baptist Women in Ministry.

Baptist Women in Ministry welcomes you to be one of our monthly givers! Monthly gifts provide dependable income for our work and allow BWIM to continue being an advocate, a network, and a connection for Baptist women ministers! Small monthly gifts of $10 or $20 or larger monthly gifts of $50 or $75 makes a significant difference in this work that God has entrusted to us! 

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The Job is Not Done by Ircel Harrison

Ircel HarrisonThe annual meeting of Baptist Women in Ministry at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly is always a bit bittersweet for me.  We celebrate those who have made sacrifices to further the cause of women in ministry, we applaud those who are making significant contributions now, and we recognize young women who show promise as ministers.  But I always come away thinking, “We are so far from where we should be.”

Someone once told me that “women in ministry” was a settled issue for Fellowship Baptists.  I agree that most of us in the Fellowship movement believe that every person—female or male—should be encouraged and equipped to her or his personal gifts in ministry, but the reality is something else.  We talk a better game than we practice.

Until women have an equal opportunity to serve in any ministry setting—pulpit, staff, agency leader—without question or hesitation, the issue is not “settled.”

When Pam Durso issued the challenge of BWIM 360—a donation of $30 each month to support BWIM– at the annual meeting in 2013, there was no hesitation on my part to make this commitment.

BWIM is the only organization in Fellowship life (and in most of Baptist life) advocating for the full involvement of women in ministry.  Through networking, information, continuing education, and advocacy, BWIM takes the initiative to further this vital mission.

The job is not done! Get on board and support BWIM financially every month.

Baptist Women in Ministry welcomes you to be one of our monthly givers! Monthly gifts provide dependable income for our work and allow BWIM to continue being an advocate, a network, and a connection for Baptist women ministers! Small monthly gifts of $10 or $20 or a larger monthly gifts of $50 or $75 make a significant difference!

Ircel Harrison is coaching coordinator at Pinnacle Leadership Associates and supplemental faculty, ministry praxis for Central Baptist Theological Seminary. He lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  

To join Ircel Harrison in supporting BWIM by becoming a monthly giver, fill out the form below

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