What Your Church Needs to Know About New Overtime Regulations

Have you heard that overtime regulations changed this year? In May, the Department of Labor finalized new federal regulations that go into effect on December 1, 2016, expanding overtime protection for millions of workers in the United States. Many pastors, church administrators, and personnel committee members have since asked about how these new regulations may impact church budgets. Below is a quick summary of the changes to the federal regulations and the potential implications for church employees. Ultimately, pastors and lay leaders should consult an attorney if they have questions about how specific employees may be affected.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) provides a minimum level of protection for much of the American workforce, including setting an hourly minimum wage, a forty-hour workweek, and overtime pay requirements. Unless exempt, FLSA-covered employees are entitled to at least minimum wage plus overtime at the rate of time and one-half for any hours worked over 40 in one week. FLSA sets a salary threshold below which overtime is automatic for covered employees. On December 1, this threshold increases from an annual salary of $23,660 to $47,476. These new regulations also include a formula which will likely adjust the salary threshold every three years going forward. Churches and other nonprofits are not categorically exempt from FLSA.
[N.B. Some states and cities have enacted their own minimum wage and overtime protections. The controlling law is whichever one provides better protection for the employee. For a listing of state minimum wage and overtime laws, click here.

FLSA and ministers
The Department of Labor does not consider ministers working in churches or religiously-affiliated institutions to be employees within FLSA protections. There is, however, no bright-line rule for who is and is not a minister. Courts have traditionally looked at the totality of the circumstances, including title, job description, religious-based duties, ordination, or leadership role in corporate worship to determine if someone was a minister (therefore not covered by most employment protections) or not a minister (and potentially covered by most employment protections). Since courts examine the totality of the circumstances, churches cannot circumvent FLSA by placing “minister” or “pastor” in all job titles and sprinkling religious terms throughout job descriptions. If challenged in court, such a church would likely lose if the employee did not actually perform ministerial duties within the life of the church.

FLSA and non-ministerial church employees
Many church employees are not ministers and could be covered by FLSA in one of two ways: enterprise coverage or individual coverage. If a church is engaged in a business such as operating a school, day care center, bookstore, or café, it may meet the enterprise test. If a church meets the enterprise test, all of its non-ministerial employees would be covered by FLSA. Individual coverage applies to any employee who regularly engages in interstate commerce, which is broadly defined to include activities such as interstate communication by phone, mail, or e-mail and ordering or receiving goods from an out-of-state supplier. See DOL guidance.

FLSA exemptions
If the FLSA applies to a non-ministerial employee, the employee will be entitled to overtime unless she falls within one of the exemptions. To be exempt, the employee must pass both the salary threshold and a white-collar duties test. The salary threshold on December 1, 2016, will be $47,476 per year. Three of the most common duties tests are for bona fide executive, administrative, or professional employees. The Society for Human Resource Management has created a useful form to help employers evaluate whether an employee meets a duties test for 6 different white-collar classifications. If a non-ministerial employee earns more than $47,476 per year and meets one of these 6 duties tests, then she is not entitled to overtime under FLSA.

Conclusion:
Before December 1, churches should take advantage of this opportunity to evaluate their employees’ status under FLSA. Some questions to start this process include:
• Who is a minister? Who is a non-ministerial employee?
• Is the church going to allow overtime?
• Does FLSA cover the non-ministerial employee(s)?
• Does the covered employee work more than 40 hours in a workweek? How often? How much? (If this happens consistently, the church should also consider whether it needs to rearrange job responsibilities or hire a new employee to share the workload.)
• Does the covered employee make less than $47,476 per year?
• Does the covered employee meet one of the duties tests?
• If so, is it better to pay the occasional overtime or to raise the annual salary to $47,476?
Church employees serve the church family in many small and large ways. Meeting our legal obligations to them is one way the church honors their service.

**Since writing my article, two lawsuits were filed to block the implementation of these regulations. A lawsuit filed by 21 states successfully obtained an emergency nationwide injunction on November 22, 2016, thus preventing the new regulations from taking effect on December 1.

The U.S. Department of Labor is continuing its efforts to implement the new overtime regulations by appealing the judge’s injunction. Although they requested an expedited appeal schedule, it is unlikely that the case will be resolved prior to President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017. If the appeal is not concluded by then, a Trump administration could choose to continue the appeal or to withdraw it. If the Trump administration withdraws the appeal, the injunction remains intact and the federal overtime regulations unchanged.

Many churches reviewed their employee job descriptions, pay rates, and workloads in anticipation of the new regulations. If your church did not, consider doing so in preparation for the next budget cycle. Even though these specific regulations may never be implemented, it remains a good stewardship practice for all churches to periodically review employee job descriptions, pay rates, and workloads.
 

Jennifer Hawks is the Associate General Counsel at the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. She is a graduate of Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary and a member of the U.S. Supreme Court, Texas, and Mississippi bars.

Who Would Win: St. Paul vs. St. Frank by Nikki Finkelstein-Blair

Proper 18, Year C
Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016

Jeremiah 18:1-11
Deut. 30:15-20
Phil. 1:1-21

Luke 14:25-33

“What does it matter? Just this: that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.” Phil. 1:18

When my older son was an early-elementary student, his school hosted the author Jerry Palotta, creator of a fascinating (to 8-year-old boys, at least) series of “Who Would Win” books. After that visit my son read every “Who Would Win” book he could find. Each book imagines a battle between two creatures, using scientific facts about each animal to determine which would be more likely to defeat the other. “Who Would Win: Komodo Dragon vs. King Cobra”… “Who Would Win: Lion vs. Tiger”… “Who Would Win: Killer Whale vs. Great White Shark”… and so on and so on.

When I first read this passage in Philippians, my honest instinct was to run away. In a who-would-win battle with Paul, given the choice of “fight or flight,” I’d take the flight! Many of us, I have a hunch, come from a strong tradition of “Paul said it, I believe it, that settles it.” If the apostle Paul says so, then he must be right. (And I for one would not want to engage him in a battle of words–or, for that matter, of wits!) And yet, it is hard for me to get on board with the idea that those who proclaim Christ “from envy and rivalry” or “out of selfish ambition” are furthering the cause of Christ. Words matter, yes; but talk can also be cheap. How much damage has been done in the life of the church, in the lives of people, in the history of faith, by those who proclaim one thing but live another? If the proclaimer cannot be trusted, how can anyone trust the One who is proclaimed?

Francis of Assisi may never have actually uttered the oft-quoted line “Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words,” but in his writings the theme does bubble up: in Chapter XVII of his Rule of 1221, where Francis taught that his followers should not preach without the proper permission, he added, “Let all the brothers, however, preach by their deeds.” My gut reaction to St. Paul is to turn to St. Frank! Would Paul have been less tolerant of shady motives if he had lived, as we do, surrounded by incessant and unfiltered talk? Would Francis have focused even more on the importance of the walk?

Probably a “who would win” contest between these two saints would be a bit of a let-down. My guess is they’d have a heart-to-heart, a cup of tea, and perhaps just a bit of spirited debate. Francis, after all, was himself a prolific preacher, and even Paul wrote that to speak without love is to be merely a “clanging cymbal.” (I Cor. 13:1) Instead of an epic battle, my hunch is they’d find common ground: we preach by walk and by talk–with both the heart and the mouth. Christ’s word and Christ’s way are proclaimed in our words and in our ways. And Christ is proclaimed most fully in the grace he offers to everyone who preaches Good News, and everyone who hears and sees it–grace even, and especially, for each of our wrong steps and for every one of our rotten motives. Christ is proclaimed through us, in spite of us, because of us–through our steps and our sermons; in spite of our falterings and failings; and because of our willingness to receive grace and to give thanks for it.
 

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is an ordained Baptist minister, at-home mom, and military spouse living in South Carolina. She blogs at One Faithful Step.

THIS IS WHAT A MINISTER LOOKS LIKE: Lauren Deer

Each week Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. This week we are thrilled to introduce Lauren Deer.

Lauren, tell us about your ministry journey, your sense of calling, and the places and ways you have served.
From birth, I was raised in the Baptist church and very active in the many activities our church had for children. I was very involved in the GA (Girls in Action) program as well as Acteens as a youth. There I learned a lot about missions and ministry. While I didn’t have any desire to be a missionary in a foreign country or preach in church, I did love to help with mission projects locally and nationally. The summer I was fifteen-years-old, I was asked by a youth leader to help with a local sports camp. I enjoyed playing sports very much, so I jumped on the opportunity. Most of the week went well, except for getting my front tooth knocked out by a plastic bat and having to be rushed to the dentist. I was able to return the next day and for the next year of my life struggled with God’s call into ministry. It was through this experience that I realized ministry wasn’t just going away to a foreign country to tell people about Jesus, or standing up to preach every Sunday. Ministry is using the specific gifts and abilities God has given me to serve the people that I interact with and share God’s love with them.

Throughout my high school career, I continued serving in local missions and in college I helped lead youth retreats through music and discipleship. While I was in seminary at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, I had the chance to do an internship as a fire chaplain intern with the City of Richmond fire department, which was of great interest to me since I had been able to do some volunteer firefighting in college. My first ministerial position while in seminary was the youth minister at Biltmore Baptist Church. After graduating from seminary, I was called as the youth and children’s minister at First Baptist Church Wallace, North Carolina. As I served in Wallace, I was able to join the local volunteer fire department as the first and only female firefighter in the department. As I served on the department for five years, I felt like my ministry went well beyond the four walls of the church, and into the community. I was often in the elementary schools volunteering and doing presentations, spending time with fellow firefighters, and interacting with the community during some of their worst days (house fires, accidents, injuries, deaths). In 2012-2014, I followed my call to do ministry outside the church and pursued chaplaincy through CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education). I was able to do a year-long CPE residency at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina near where I lived, and they offered me the chance to be the chaplain to the paramedics. It was during this year that my passion for emergency services chaplaincy ignited. I was able to form relationships with the paramedics and live life with them. During this time, I also worked to get my EMT so that I could work to offer medical care on the EMS because most chaplain positions in emergency services are volunteer within the organization.

After completing my residency in 2014, I took a job working with the Wallace police department as dispatcher and chaplain to the police officers. Through ridealongs and sharing meals together, I was able to build relationships with them, and minister to them as they faced stressful and tragic times, including the death of an officer’s teenage son in an accident.

Tell us about your new ministry position.
In June 2016, I was fortunate to begin working as a Preservation Coordinator with Carolina Donor Services, an organ procurement organization serving 7.2 million people in seventy-seven counties of North Carolina and Danville, Virginia. Carolina Donor Services facilitates the recovery of life-saving organs and tissues that help thousands of people. We also provide public and professional education about the critical need for donation and the importance of registering to be an organ, eye and tissue donor. I am blessed to work with an organization whose mission is to “maximize the passing of the heroic gift of life from one human-being to another through organ and tissue donation.”

As a Preservation Coordinator, I’m responsible for all areas of the surgical recovery and preservation of organs for transplantation and research as well as other duties to ensure that organs are well-maintained until they are transplanted.

In addition to taking care of these precious gifts, I also serve as a resource to our hospital partners by answering questions and offering support to them as we work together during the donation process. Before the recovery of the donor’s gift of life, we pause so that I may lead a special ceremony in which we honor the heroic donor, his or her loved ones and the recipient who will receive the gift. These moments are poignant and remind us all of the power of donation.

I would like to connect members of the faith community to our Communications Department to build upon Carolina Donor Services’ existing faith-based outreach. I hope faith leaders will encourage their congregants to register as a donor as well as remind them to share their end-of-life wishes with loved ones. A brief conversation now can provide so much comfort to a grieving family as they support their loved one’s generous decision to give life to another person in need.

What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
My greatest joys have come as I have had the chance to perform sacred ordinances outside the church. Sharing in such sacred moments as I held a newborn child in my arms in the hospital to offer a prayer of thanksgiving for a healthy birth, imposed ashes on the heads of paramedics who too often see the mortality of the human race, officiated Christian weddings of firefighters whom I serve alongside, and honored the life of young man with a grieving family who didn’t have a church family support them through such tragedy.

What have been your greatest sources of challenge in ministry?
My greatest challenge for ministry is the fact that first-responder chaplaincy is not highly recognized by fire, EMS, and Police departments, and often times the quick fix is to bring in a religious person to make them talk about their feelings. Emergency personnel are a very tight knit group that don’t welcome outsiders very much, so in order for chaplaincy to be effective, relationships have to first be developed before trust of more sacred things can happen. There seems to be a lack of first-responder chaplains to network with and glean information from, but through Campbell Divinity’s Doctoral program, I have found a group of ministers and professors that allow me to share my story and gain feedback as I seek to find ways to best minister to fire, EMS, and police. My hope is that first-responder chaplaincy will be something all departments seek to have in order to provide the best care for their staff.

Today’s Sad News by Pam Durso

We live in a broken world, one filled with pain and grief, disappointment and heartbreak. As Christians, we often wish that our faith provided us with immunity from hurt and loss, but we have learned on this journey of faith that trouble comes to each of us, sometimes paying us an unexpected, shocking visit.

Many of us today have read the announcement about Suzii Paynter, the executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. After forty-four years of marriage, Suzii has filed for divorce. Her announcement reminds us that each person we encounter is living with pain that we know nothing about. We often make assumptions that life is easy for those in powerful positions or places of influence, but the reality is that none of us are immune to hurt and heartbreak. None of us.

The officers and the governing board of CBF have assured us of their confidence in Suzii’s leadership and their commitment to her continued role as executive coordinator, and I fully agree. There is no one in which I have more confidence than Suzii Paynter. She is the most effective leader I know. Suzii is one of those rare leaders who can dream big dreams and then make those dreams a reality. She sees the big picture, but she also gets things done, makes things happen. For three-and-a-half years, she has shared her leadership gifts with our CBF family, and we have been abundantly blessed. With today’s news, the circumstances of Suzii’s personal life have sadly changed, but her abilities and giftedness have not changed. Her calling to the Fellowship has not changed. And for her steadfast commitment to this important work I am most grateful.

As Suzii moves through these hardest of days, my prayer is that we will offer her the same measure of grace that she has always given to those who are heartbroken and hurting. May we embrace her with the same compassionate, loving kindness that she has offered to us as a Fellowship. May we respect her privacy as we would want our privacy respected. May we offer her words of support and affirmation so that she will know that she is not on this journey alone. May we faithfully pray that God’s peace and mercy bring comfort to her and to Roger and their children as they grieve this loss and move forward into an unexpected new reality. Amen.

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

Because Women Are Equal Partners in Ministry by Kevin Pranoto

This time last year, I was packing my essentials into boxes, loading up ol’ Bella (my tiny aging car), and moving cross country to intern at Baptist Women in Ministry. As a dual-degree MDiv/MSW student at Baylor University, I was passionate about the intersection of women and the Church and decided that I wanted to intern at an organization where I could explore the diverse experiences women in ministry face. I did not realize how formative my experience at BWIM would be for my faith, academics, and future career.

During my time at BWIM, I listened to stories from women pastors who have had great successes and challenges in ministry. I saw eyes full of appreciation from women after receiving encouragement and affirmation in their season of discernment. And as a social work student, I realized that BWIM is not only a Baptist ministry organization, but it is also a bridge-building organization. During my internship, I worked with BWIM in living out its conviction that every person has dignity and worth through its advocacy for women’s voices who are too often marginalized and silenced. We helped women create meaningful connections with mentors and churches to establish networks that would have been difficult to build on their own.

I give monthly to Baptist Women in Ministry because I believe in the hard work that they do in creating opportunities for women called to ministry in a context that does not yet fully see them as equals. I also give to BWIM because their dedication to their work has led to a community of better equipped and nourished women in ministry. Although Baptist Women in Ministry’s team is small, I have witnessed its effectiveness in creating big positive changes across Baptist congregations. I give because Baptist Women in Ministry has done and continues to do big things to ensure that one day all women will be seen as equal partners in the ministry of Jesus Christ.

Kevin Pranoto is executive specialist, office of the executive coordinator at Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in Decatur, Georgia. 

Monthly gifts provide dependable income for our work and allow Baptist Women in Ministry 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! We invite you to join Kevin in being a monthly giver by filling out the form below.

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Baptist Women in Ministry Is a Reflection of Me by Yvonne Harold

While attending The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor as an undergrad, I was introduced to Baptist Women in Ministry through a retreat held in Brownwood, TX. Although I did not know anyone attending the retreat, I was determined to be there. Little did I know, this event would change my life. For the first time, I not only met women who encouraged me, but who also embraced my calling, genuinely cared about me, and wanted to be a part of my life’s journey. The retreat, coupled with one encounter after another with God-filled women, confirmed my calling as a pastor. Not only was I given the space to acknowledge my calling, but I was also able to give life to the voice within while exploring my fears. A platform of other women, who were serving as pastors in their churches, provided endless possibilities of what God could and would do through me, a woman in ministry.

I support Baptist Women in Ministry because BWIM is a reflection of me and is instrumental in transforming the lives of women. Baptist Women in Ministry provided a safe, nurturing place for me to step boldly into who God called me to be, and who God purposed me to be. I give to Baptist Women in Ministry out of love and gratitude.

Yvonne Harold is pastor of Destined Ministries in Killeen, Texas.

Monthly gifts provide dependable income for our work and allow Baptist Women in Ministry 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! We invite you to join Yvonne in being a monthly giver by filling out the form below.

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One Little Word by Nikki Finkelstein-Blair

Jeremiah 2:4-13
Proverbs 25:6-7
Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
Luke 14:1, 7-14

“So we can say with confidence,
‘The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?’” (Heb. 13:6b, and Psalm 118:6)

Some of the littlest words in the Bible have the most to teach us.

Like: “So.”

“So” is a tiny word, a forgettable word. We might skip right over it to the good parts of the verse, the exciting parts: “we can say with confidence” and “the Lord is my helper” and “I will not be afraid.” “So” practically disappears before we’ve even sounded it out.

So I looked up the word “So.” I hear it often (as in “So, Mom…,” typically just before my children ask for something I’m unlikely to agree to), but I’ve never thought much about “So.” It turns out “So,” this tiny word, can function as almost any part of speech! “So” can be an adverb, an adjective, a pronoun, an interjection (there’s my “So, Mom…”!), and, as in this biblical example, as a conjunction.

In case you’ve forgotten your Schoolhouse Rock, conjunctions function as connectors between train cars—I mean, clauses.

“So” is a shorthand for “therefore.” “Therefore” sounds like a Bible word, a word to pay attention to. We know what to do when we see “therefore” in the scriptures: we look back to see what it’s referring to. We look for the connection, for the cause that leads to an effect. So let’s treat this little “So” as if it were a fancier “Therefore.” Why, after all, could the congregation in Hebrews “say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid”?

Why? Because they were grounded in a community that looked like this:

—mutually loving (“Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.” Rom. 12:10)
—hospitable to strangers (who may in fact be angels, as in Gen.18:2-15)
—remembering prisoners as though they too were imprisoned (“You had compassion for those who were in prison…” Heb. 10:34)
—remembering those being tortured as though they too were being tortured
—honoring marriage and practicing it faithfully
—keeping free from the love of money

and on top of it all,

—led by people who spoke God’s word, and who lived faithfully so the people could learn from them and imitate them in doing good and sharing.

The audience of Hebrews practiced love, hospitality, compassion, empathy, faithfulness, and contentment. They followed worthy role-models. So… what was there to be afraid of?

These days, fear is good for business, and fear is great for politics. Until today, until this “So,” I’ve been convinced that the fear-mongering that pummels us every day is merely manufactured for the sake of a sale, or with the objective of an office. But this small, significant “So” makes me think: maybe we are right to be afraid.

Confidence in the Lord’s help grows out of a community of hospitality, compassion, and empathy—so maybe we are right to be afraid.

Security is to be rooted in mutual, honorable love between people, and our relationship with money is to be dispassionate—so maybe we are right to be afraid.

We applaud leaders who tell us to be strong and to be right, rather than emulate those who do good and share sacrificially—so maybe we are right to be afraid.

The first audience of Hebrews heard: You live as beloved community… so you can say with confidence “I will not be afraid.” Hear the good news for us today: this train can also reverse! You want to be confident in God’s help, so practice relationships. You want to be-not-afraid, so show compassion. You want to fear no one, so serve them and share with them. One little word, connecting practice and promise, joining faithfulness and fearlessness. So…?
 

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is an ordained Baptist minister, at-home mom, and military spouse living in South Carolina. She blogs at One Faithful Step.

I Give in Honor of the Women Who Came Before Me by Jessica Asbell

I am a monthly giver to Baptist Women in Ministry. I give for many reasons. I give in honor of my mom, who felt a call from God to ministry as a teenager. But, unfortunately, all she heard was that women couldn’t be in ministry, and so she was forced to turn her back on that calling. But even though she was turned away from ministry, when I told her that I felt like God was calling me to be a Children’s Minister, she was one of my best advocates. Growing up, she taught me that I could be whoever God wanted me to be and I am grateful.

I also give in honor of the strong women of my family. These women: my mom, both of my grandmothers (Shug and Granny Rose), my Aunt Barbaras (yep, there’s two of them!), my Aunt Connie, my Aunt Diane, and MaryNo, all taught me to be strong and stand up for myself. They showed me through the lives they lived that it was possible to be a strong woman, and they showed no fear as they bumped against that glass ceiling. As a result, I am one of the lucky female ministers whose family supported her calling. And not only did they support my calling, they are still a major source of encouragement for me.

I give in honor of the women who came before me, who broke down the barriers so that I am able to stand behind our pulpit without fear of being cast out. I also give in honor of the women who will come after me. I give in honor of the many girls I work with, whose bright faces and hopeful spirits will be able to stay with them should they choose ministry because of organizations like BWIM.

BWIM has been a wonderful resource for me. Pam Durso has played an important role in helping me continue my call when I was discouraged. BWIM has been a place of rest and renewal for me, as well as a place of hope when I needed it. It is an organization that is made up of hopeful women, of women who are quick to listen, to offer to support, and to offer a shoulder to cry on. I am grateful for BWIM and I give so that the women who come after me can experience the support that I have. Thank you BWIM and thank you, Pam!

Jessica Asbell is minister for children at First Baptist Church, Roswell, Georgia.

Monthly gifts provide dependable income for our work and allow Baptist Women In Ministry 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! We invite you to join Jessica as a monthly giver by filling out the form below.

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I Give to Honor My Champions by Pam Foster

When I became a seminarian, I had never met an ordained Baptist woman. I did not know there was such a person. So, when God called me to full-time vocational ministry, I was mystified. I did not know where to begin looking for support, information, colleagues, or mentors. While I was greatly surprised by my calling and the circumstances in which I found myself, I can look back at my story and see that God was never surprised. In my home congregation, which had never ordained a woman, there were two strong, godly women who nurtured my infant-like dream of being a minister. They prayed for me, listened to me, and most importantly championed for me with the leaders and members of the congregation. With their help, I was able to stand firm in my answer to God’s call. The congregation was able to ordain me, affirming my gifts of ministry. I give to Baptist Women in Ministry in honor of my champions, Carol and Linda, and in hopefulness for all the young Baptist women God is calling. May they hear God’s voice as they step into a future surrounded by other Baptist women as supporters, colleagues, and mentors.

Pam Foster is the director of pastoral care at Cook Children’s Medical Center, Fort Worth, Texas.

Monthly gifts provide dependable income for our work and allow Baptist Women In Ministry 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! We invite you to join Pam as a monthly giver by filling out the form below.
 

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THIS IS WHAT A MINISTER LOOKS LIKE: Ossie McKinney

Each week, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. This week we are thrilled to introduce Ossie McKinney.

Ossie, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served.
My ministry journey started at the age of four-years-old. My parents were an older couple who believed in church and serving in the church. I remember singing my first song at the age of five, “Lord I Know You’ve Been So Good.” From that moment, my mother would send me and my two younger sisters to visit an elderly lady in our community, Mrs. Eva Hatcher to whom we would sing songs. We were called her little “Sunshine Band.” By the age of eight-years-old, I was learning to play the piano and by the age of twelve, I was playing the piano for many churches in the small town of Columbia, Louisiana. I learned at an early age to honor and serve the elderly. My heart today still leans towards serving my elders.

Upon graduating from high school, I joined the United States Navy and was stationed at NAS Atlanta. I began to serve as music director for youth and adult choirs in the Atlanta area. I have served thirty-four years as a pianist, choir director, and/or Minister of Music. The gift of music has brought me before many congregations. Being a musician and singer and serving in the music ministry for so long makes people see me as only a songstress and pianist.

Seven years ago I married a preacher who saw past the music and was instrumental in nurturing and stretching the gifts of teaching and administration that God has placed in my life. As his “First Lady,” I was called upon to head the Children’s Ministry at his church which involved preparing and teaching the weekly children’s sermons. It was this platform that geared me towards the adult pulpit. In 2011, my husband underwent surgery to have some discs in his neck replaced. As his wife and co-laborer in the Gospel, I stepped in and delivered the weekly sermons during his recovery. I was licensed as a preacher of the Gospel in April 2011. Since that time I have obtained my Masters of Divinity degree and currently serve as the Minister of Music at Faith Baptist Church, located south of downtown Atlanta, Georgia.

What challenges have you encountered along the way?
One of the major challenges that I have encountered in ministry is serving in a church that does not recognize that God can and will call women to preach His Word. Currently, this is the place in which I serve. In my younger days, a challenge that went against my beliefs would have made me leave the church without hesitation. Maturity and wisdom have taught me to wait on God. I love the people I serve. I am not caught up in positions or titles. This enables me to serve in the capacity in which they need me. This wait has taught me that I do not have to prove who I am in Christ or what He has called me to do. My service will speak for itself. Although, I am not allowed to preach in the pulpit, I have an opportunity every week in choir rehearsal to share the Word. I do not need the pulpit if I am reaching the same people through another platform.

Who has inspired you along the way as you have lived out your calling?
In 1998, God called me to be a Minister of Music. He allowed me to serve as the Minister of Music to Light of the World Christian Tabernacle under the leadership of Archbishop Jimmie Lee Smith. The late Archbishop Smith was a great mentor and was very instrumental in teaching me how to worship. I knew how to worship and love on God, but I did not know how to allow worship to inhabit my music so that I could set the atmosphere and make room for others to worship.

My husband, Elder Charles McKinney, Jr. has been my greatest mentor and inspiration in teaching and delivering the Word of God. His patience and encouragement have allowed me to find my voice and the skin in which I minister best. He has been a pastor and husband that has encouraged me to be all that God has designed me to be. Having a partner and friend who celebrates my gifts rather than stifle them motivates me to continue to nurture my spirituality so that I can be the help-meet God designed for him as we do ministry together. For I realize that the Lord is more concerned with my walk with Him than my work for Him.

What is the best ministry advice you have received?
I have learned in this ministry journey that I am uniquely shaped in the image of God. It is not my job to sing, play, or preach like anyone else. The worship and service that I give can only be given by me, so just be ME. The best ministry advice that I have received is to guard against being too busy. Someone once said, “If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” Because I am a planner and love to make lists, I have to constantly guard against becoming a slave even of good works. Rest is not a sedative for the sick. It is a requirement and commandment from our Creator God. My professor Robert J. Morgan teaches, “If you are always available, you are never available.” So right now I am working on establishing that I am busy doing the things that God has designed for me to be doing in the twenty-four-hour daily increments of time He graciously bestows upon me.