Baptist Women in Ministry (BWIM).. Advocating, Connecting, Networking Wed, 20 Sep 2017 09:07:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Lawyers and Preachers by Pam Durso Wed, 20 Sep 2017 09:07:48 +0000 In September 2010, I served as a juror, and now in September 2017, I am on the prospective jury list again, waiting to see if my juror number will be called. After the conclusion of my service seven years ago, I wrote a blog about the experience. It still makes me smile when I think about that case and what I learned, so I thought I would share the smiles.

Jury Duty and Preachers, September 10, 2010

A few weeks ago I served on a jury. The case only last about three hours, and the deliberation process lasted only minutes. My five fellow jurors and I agree in about four minutes that the defendant was guilty.

The case was amazingly forgettable as court cases go, but the experience has stuck with me . . . not because of any graphic details of a crime or any dramatic legal moments. It was a case about a simple traffic violation.

What keeps drawing me back to this case are the two young lawyers. Both the defense attorney and the prosecutor looked to be in their mid-to-late twenties, fresh out of law school. But I could tell that they both had worked other cases. They knew their way around a courtroom. And they were both prepared. They had notes and law books. They had talked with the witnesses. They brought photos and drawings of the crime scene. And they were knowledgeable. They made objections, asked the judge for rulings on legal points.

But both these young attorneys desperately needed a courtroom coach—someone to help them polish their performance. The defense attorney repeatedly brought rabbits to chase into his cross-examination, but then he never chased those rabbits down. He failed to follow-up on his own questions, and after a while I stopped paying as close attention to his questions because I sensed that he was talking in order to be heard—not because he had something to say.

At the end of the case, this young defense attorney offered his closing statement to those of us in the jury box. In a passionate plea for truth and justice, he charged us with the task of protecting the entire American constitutional system and ensuring our own freedom as Americans. And okay, I couldn’t help myself. I smiled. I was pretty sure that the United States government was not hanging in the balance, waiting on the verdict we six jurors would render about this defendant who had broken a fairly minor traffic law.

The young prosecutor, who was very organized and efficient in many ways, also needed a coach. She asked many good questions. She followed up with more questions, but she failed to ask THE question that would have put her case away. She never got to the central point of her case. I found myself scooting up in my chair, willing her to ask that ONE question that desperately needed to be asked. But she never did.

In her closing, she presented well, but she stood to the side of the podium, frequently gesturing back toward the defendant. And with each awkward hand gesture, she became more and more unsteady on her high heels, wobbling back and forth, trying hard to stay upright. And then I started worrying. Was she going to gesture again? What if her gesturing caused her to fall off her high heels? Was she going to land in the jury box with us? I stopped listening to her words because I was so worried about her wild hand gestures and those very high heels.

In the days since my jury service, I have wondered about those two young lawyers. Who will sit with them and encourage them? Who will offer them some pointers about how to be more comfortable and confident public speakers? Who will talk with them about finding the main point and sticking to it? Who will help them understand that being overly dramatic lessens the effect of their words?

I was reminded that young preachers are in some ways more fortunate than young lawyers. Young preachers have professors, mentors, and congregations who walk with them as they learn the art and craft of preaching.  And for those of us who sit in the pew and have the chance to listen to a young preacher, we have an opportunity, and even a responsibility, to provide affirmation, encouragement, thoughtful responses, and helpful suggestions.

But those young lawyers do have one thing that some young preachers lack—opportunity! Those young lawyers will be in the courtroom hundreds of times over the next few years. They will improve because they will have lots of practice. And so it should be with our young preachers too—get them in the pulpit. They need opportunities. They need time in the pulpit. They need to preach!

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

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THIS IS WHAT A MINISTER LOOKS LIKE: Jen Lyon Fri, 15 Sep 2017 10:00:42 +0000 Each week, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. This week, we’re thrilled to introduce Jen Lyon.

Jen, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
I literally cannot remember a time when I wasn’t aware of God. As the daughter of minister, our home was saturated spirituality, so I can say my first steps toward ministry probably happened shortly after my actual first steps. I was baptized in my Circus Playhouse T-Shirt when I was a seven-year-old and I can honestly say that while I know I had no real understanding of where following Jesus would take me, I loved God and I really LOVED church. I never wanted to miss it, those folks shaped my early understanding of who God was and how I related to God and to the world. I was in my early teen years when I first felt a vocational call to ministry, but having no female pastor role models, I couldn’t wrap my brain around this calling. I knew I wanted to love people in the way I felt loved by God. It wasn’t until I was at a small liberal arts college and met another female called to vocational ministry that things started to click. She was from another Christian denomination who affirmed women in all aspects of ministry life. My mind was blown, and from that day forward I began to fully embrace my call. My ministry journey has taken me from faith-based non-profit work, to social services, to being commissioned as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Field Personnel, and currently as one of the pastors in a non-hierarchical team of pastors at Park Avenue Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
The people at Park Ave are my greatest source of joy! They encourage and challenge me. They tell the truth and are not afraid to ask hard questions. They love deeply and well. Every Sunday morning I have the same sense of awe as folks walk into our big red doors. The faces I see run the spectrum in pretty much every way—skin tone, age, sexual orientation, faith background and more. We have many, many, folks who have been hurt deeply by the church. The courage that they have to show up week after week, seeking God and community, daring to risk being hurt one more time is inspiration for me on the hard days and a deep source of joy every day.

What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?
Funding ministry is big challenge. In every ministry role I have been in I have been responsible for raising funds in some way or another. Working on a really tight budget, grant writing, and making hard choices when the funds just aren’t there is not the side of ministry one is most prepared for. Funding issues can easily lead a minister into a paralyzing scarcity mentality. I have been there more than once. Money is a part of ministry, there is no way around it, and unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be growing on the trees in the park outside our progressive doors. However, we serve a God of abundance and I have learned (and am still learning) to trust that abundance.

What is the best ministry advice you have ever received?
I have been given lots of great advice, but one recent piece of advice stands out. “You are not the only one,” she said to me when I was rattling off the list of things that had to be done: sermon writing, pastoral care needs, the leak in the preschool, the budget, weeds in the rose garden, the interns, and the overwhelming pain of the world. I often have to remember I am not the only one in the life of ministry. The need is almost always more than anyone person can handle. There are others committed to this journey and we never walk alone. In the chaos of pastoring, I often hear her voice reminding me that I am not the only one and I take a deep breath, thankful for fellow laborers and the Spirit of God who is always present.

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“Why Doth God Sometimes Seem to Leave” by Pam Durso Wed, 13 Sep 2017 09:13:47 +0000 Monday was an unusual day for those of us who live in the Atlanta area. We all hunkered down and waited for Hurricane Irma to make her way to us. By the time she arrived, Irma had become a Tropical Storm, but she still had some power to her. She brought wind gusts of 35-40 miles per hour and rain, lots and lots of rain.

Schools, government offices, and businesses shut down on Monday. Like most other folks, I was home–waiting, listening, praying. To take my mind off the swaying of those really tall pine trees in my backyard, I read writings by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Baptist women (what else would a Baptist historian read during a Tropical Storm event?)

Among those writings was a treatise by Katherine Sutton, a Baptist who lived in England during the reign of King Charles II. It wasn’t a particularly pleasant time to be a Baptist given that the English Parliament was busy passing acts designed to limit religious freedom and oppress dissenters. In 1660, Sutton finally fled to Holland, and three years later she published a treatise titled “Christian Womans Experiences of the Glorious Workings of God’s Free Grace.” I read this treatise on Monday as I listened to the strong winds blow, and I was struck especially by a question Sutton raised, one that had come to her during a sermon: “Why doth God sometimes seem to leave his own people?”

Katherine Sutton, a Baptist woman who lived 350 years ago, wrote down these words that I have been feeling, thinking, pondering in the past few weeks. The destructive forces that have swept across our country–hurricanes, floods, and fires–have left me wondering in my darkest moments whether God has taken leave of us, if God is anywhere to be found.

Sutton did not provide much of an answer to the question, but that she gave thought to the question and included it in her writing was in an odd way comforting for me. I felt less alone on a dark Monday, knowing that women of faith and men of faith from across the centuries have, like me, struggled to feel and know God’s presence on their hardest of days. I am not the first to wonder why God seems so far away, and I won’t be the last. I join with a whole company of the faithful who have expressed such doubt.

On Tuesday, Tropical Storm Irma left us. She stayed about twenty-four hours and made her departure. She was kinder to Atlanta than she was to the Caribbean or to Florida, but she did gift us with power outages and downed trees. She also gifted us with new stories: stories of neighbors and strangers who showed up with chainsaws to help, stories of family and friends who called, texted, and sent messages of concern and hope, and stories of a God who showed up for some of us even while we were asking where God was.

On Monday, God showed up for me in the midst of my doubt. Two Texas friends, friends who experienced the worst of Hurricane Harvey and are still experiencing the worst of Harvey, took time to check on me and send their love. And suddenly God didn’t seem so far away after all.

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

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THIS IS WHAT A MINISTER LOOKS LIKE: Meriah VanderWeide Fri, 08 Sep 2017 10:00:51 +0000 Every Friday Baptist Women in Ministry introduces a fabulous minister, and today we are pleased to introduce Meriah VanderWeide.

Meriah, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
I grew up in the church my entire life. My family attended a North American Baptist church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota during my formative years. Sioux Falls is the biggest city in South Dakota with a population of 200,000. I wrestled through sexual abuse, family members with addictions, and anxiety birthed from those two things. Though I grew up familiar with Jesus Christ and the stories in scripture, my faith did not become my own until my sophomore year of college. It was at that point that I realized that God had been present with me throughout my struggles. He was constantly calling for me to come to Him for healing, restoration, and direction. My experiences have made me weak but my dependence on Christ has made me strong.

I believe that God had been calling me to full-time ministry from my high school days although I wasn’t able to articulate that calling. In the NABC, women could not be senior pastors and very rarely were women ordained as ministers. Because women couldn’t be senior pastors, I assumed that God was sending me into the mission field, which was not something I wanted to do. I avoided responding to the call initially. In college, I claimed a major in education, then English, then psychology, all the while taking the Bible and theology classes that interested me. When I accepted that those three fields did not fit together, I realized that I had been, unconsciously, following my call towards a theology/philosophy degree. Upon graduation, however, I did not follow my calling but instead went for a high paying job at an insurance company; this led to discontentment and depression.

After a few years of treading water through different jobs, I was hired as the youth pastor at my home church. In August of 2014, I enrolled at Sioux Falls Seminary in pursuit of a Master in Divinity degree. I still assumed that God was calling me to an associate pastor position. Then in September of 2016, through the work of the Holy Spirit, I met Randy Rasmussen, changed my denominational affiliation from the NAB to the American Baptist Churches, USA, and was offered a position as an interim pastor of a small church in Madison, South Dakota. In May of 2017, I graduated from Sioux Falls Seminary and am now seeking to serve God in a full-time pastoral position.

What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
I am an extrovert. God built me that way, and people play a large role in my greatest joy in ministry. As I am preparing for sermons and talking to people about our amazing God, I cannot help being overwhelmed with a sense of awe! The more I study and seek God the more I cannot get enough of the awesomeness of God. Whenever I prepare for a sermon, I spend a large amount of time stopping and praising God out of gratitude for his character. People play into this through the moments when others realize the wonder of God and gain a passion for his word. When they see what I see, my heart sings.

What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?
My biggest challenge is twofold: I am a young woman seeking to be a pastor. Many individuals want to discredit the young pastor as if someone under forty years old cannot be called by God. My age is constantly in discussion during interviews, formal or informal. Yes, I am not yet thirty, but that does not mean God has not called me or equipped me. It is because of my youth that I recognize my utter dependence on God to provide wisdom.

Being a woman seeking the pastorate has been a sensitive subject since I was a child. When I was in high school, the North American Baptist church in which I grew up made a statement supporting women in leadership and half of the congregation left. Baptist churches fall across a huge spectrum on this topic. My desire is not to prove that God has called me or to fight for a position; I do not have a feminist agenda in pursuing the pastorate. I simply want to glorify God by using the gifts He gave me and am depending on the work of the Holy Spirit to equip me for whatever position God lays before me.

There are other challenges that have been difficult lessons to learn:
1. Shared information or knowledge does not equal a shared interpretation or opinion. I can teach, I can preach, I can dialogue with individuals, but ultimately their opinion is their decision. That was a very frustrating lesson to learn.
2. Every decision made by the pastor and the leadership team of the church has a ripple effect of consequences, some decisions can still be in play months or years later.
3. Growing up in a co-dependent household means you will struggle to deal with conflict and resolution as an adult.

What advice would you give to a teenage girl who is discerning a call to ministry?
1. First and foremost: You are a cherished child of God!!! You are fearfully and wonderfully made! Do not squelch you gifts by attempting to blend in with those around you. You were made to stand out!
2. Don’t come into conversations with your “guns loaded.” Being on the defensive automatically shuts people off to hearing your thoughts.
3. Trust the Holy Spirit to defend your call; you need only be obedient to it.
4. Dig in to spiritual disciplines, find ones that fit your personality (I recommend Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun as a great book for exploring options). Having a steady routine for connecting with God will fill you up and help you to develop into your specific call.
5. Two Quotes and Application:
a. Jim Rohn “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
b. Chap Clark: “Here’s the bottom line: every kid needs five adult fans. Any young person who shows any interest in Christ needs a minimum of five people of various ages who will say, ‘I’m going to love that kid until they are fully walking as an adult member of this congregation.’”
c. Therefore:
i. Surround yourself with people, across the spectrum of age, gender, and ethnicity, that have attributes you admire.
ii. Find someone to mentor you and provide encouragement as you journey through life (this person may change depend on the season you are in).
iii. Find a peer to whom you are accountable. There is something profoundly encouraging when you have someone in the exact same scenario as you saying “me too.”
iv. Find someone to mentor. Train up the next generation, let us not repeat the mistakes of history by forgetting to care for and teach future leaders.

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These Past Four Weeks by Pam Durso Wed, 06 Sep 2017 04:09:40 +0000 This week my thoughts have been on history. Given all that is going on, history seems an odd thing to focus on, but I am after all a historian.

Here is what I have been wondering: what will scholars fifty years from now write about the happenings of this past month? How will they interpret the events of these past four weeks? What will they say about August and September of 2017?

Surely in future history books, the last four weeks will get a shout out. After all, they have be filled with history-shaping experiences and events, beginning with August 11-12 and the horrifying and frightening display of white supremacy and hatred in Charlottesville; followed on August 25 by the landfall of Hurricane Harvey and the devastating flooding the storm caused in the Houston area and beyond; followed on August 29 by the release of the Nashville Statement, which declared that those in the LGBTQ community and those who support them cannot be Christian; followed on September 5 by President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, which may result in the deportation of some 800,000 teenagers and young adult DREAMers; and now to be followed by the anticipated landfall of Hurricane Irma, which could be the largest natural disaster ever in the United States.

Given all that has unfolded in these past few weeks, all the hurt and pain for so many, historians will have lots to write about, and I hope that at least some of them recognize how hard this month in our history has been. There has been no rebounding time allowed. There has been no relief, no easy, carefree days. Those who have been directly impacted and those who have been paying attention have experienced overwhelming emotions of fear, anger, sadness, and hopelessness. Processing these events has been difficult, but mounting a response to all the various situations has seemed impossible.

If you are like me, you know this feeling of being overwhelmed–and numbed by all the events of this past month. I honestly don’t know how historians will write about this four-week period, but here is my hope. I hope they will tell the stories of young adults–the ones who are leading the way, the ones who are writing petitions and gathering signatures, the ones who are showing up at marches and standing on the steps of state capitol buildings, the ones who are calling their congressional delegates, the ones who are collecting needed supplies for flood victims and donating money for disaster recovery, the ones who are speaking out and standing firm. I hope historians will write about young adults like Alyssa Aldape and Anyra Cano, who have been faithful and vocal in their witness, who have been busy working for change as they address hard issues of social justice, and who have taken to the streets and have gone to city council meetings. These two and so many more young Christian adults have been an inspiration for me in the midst of dark days, and their active faith has given me hope in these past few weeks!

I am pretty sure I won’t be writing history fifty years from now, but if I am, I will be telling the stories of Alyssa and Anyra!

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

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THIS IS WHAT A MINISTER LOOKS LIKE: Meg Lacy Fri, 01 Sep 2017 10:00:59 +0000 Each week, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. This week, we are thrilled to introduce Meg Lacy.

Meg, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
Like many, my ministry journey has been a winding one! I originally went to seminary planning to do Ph.D. work. I was curious about the role of congregations in culture and wanted to study in the area of sociology of religion. I obviously loved the church—I wanted to spend my life studying it! But having grown up in a congregation that didn’t ordain women, I had a hard time seeing myself leading in a church. I had done a few congregational internships, and even worked as a youth minister briefly during college, but none of these things felt like a fit. Then, as often happens, God’s gentle whispers of calling grew louder and louder! For me, that looked like falling in love with the congregation I was serving in—Park Avenue Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

It was my love for Park Ave that helped me sense that my calling to the church wasn’t just academic. This congregation nurtured my gifts and helped me to name and claim my pastoral identity. After interning with Park Ave for over a year, I served as the sabbatical interim there and was ordained by the congregation after graduating from seminary. It was a beautiful season of learning and growth.

Then, as often happens in ministry, I moved on to my next place of calling: Emerywood Baptist Church in High Point, North Carolina. I have been at Emerywood for just over three years, and my role here has changed… and changed… and then changed again. Isn’t that just like church work? But I find that no matter what my title is, the work that energizes me is always about creating spaces for people to encounter God—through worship, small group studies, prayer groups, retreats, or serving our community and seeing God’s face in the face of a neighbor. This, I think, is the calling at the heart of the work I do.

What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?
Hands down, the greatest challenge for me has been pastoral care. I love the people I serve among and one of my greatest joys (and gifts!) is building deep, authentic relationships. But I find that this gift can also be my greatest burden in ministry—sometimes I am too invested!

Our congregation has had a particularly rough year, with significant staff transitions and a number of deaths, including the tragic death of a teen. I found during that time that I needed to create stronger emotional boundaries with those I minister and that I needed to maintain space to care for myself and experience my own grief. Recognizing the limits of my capacity to care-give was not an easy or pretty journey for me—and most days, I’m still on the path of trying to figure it out! So often, both as women AND as pastors, our self-worth and sense of success is tightly bound to our ability to care for others well. Yet there is wisdom in knowing our limits, and truly believing that caring for ourselves well is just as important as caring for someone else. I find that having companions on the journey—clergy friends, a spiritual director, mentors—are the leaven that I need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Their support buoys me when I hit a wall of emotional exhaustion or compassion fatigue, and they are there to encourage me when I feel like a failure because I can’t do it all. They graciously remind me that I am only human, and that God is the great healer of souls, not me.

What do you love best about your present ministry role?
Perhaps I will always be a student (read: nerd) at heart, because my two favorite parts of my current position are sermon preparation and leading small groups. While I enjoy the preaching moment, what I love most about preaching is the time spent in preparation. What a sacred task it is to go to God, and to the text, on behalf of my congregation, believing that there is a word for us in it—believing that God has something to say. I get chills just thinking about it! I love the beautiful space where study and prayer mingle together and turn into words and ideas that feel drenched in the Holy Spirit. Sermon preparation gives me energy and new life every. single. time.

I also love to facilitate small groups and book studies. At Emerywood—small groups have taken on a number of different forms—sometimes we have a theme we explore, or we meet for a particular liturgical season. Other times we study a book together, or try on prayer practices. On a personal level, I love getting to spend time with a small group and get to know them well. But in a broader sense, I love how God shows up so clearly in these small group settings, when we are given the opportunity to journey together for a season, and create safe space for authentic, and intimate conversation. Parker Palmer likes to say that the soul is like a wild animal, and if we want it to come out we don’t go crashing through the woods calling for it. Instead, we sit quietly down and wait for it to emerge. I love creating opportunities for our souls—our whole selves—to show up to one another and to God. I love seeing how the Spirit of God speaks in and through the group conversation—and how we all walk away changed, just by sharing in this sacred space.

Who have been your sources of inspiration and support along the way?
I have had the gift of so many amazing women in my life—pastors, professors, and especially friends. These women often hold my hand in the dark seasons, and take the time to celebrate with me in the beautiful moments. As a single person and an only child, I am doubly grateful for the friendships I’ve developed over the years, they have become a major source of strength and support.

Between the peaks and the valleys, though, I often find daily support and inspiration in between the pages of a book—their authors becoming companions on the journey. I enjoy Parker Palmer, who I mentioned above, Barbara Brown Taylor, Joan Chittister, Eugene Peterson, Jan Richardson, Richard Rohr, Kathleen Norris, just to name a few. A mentor recommended a book of daily readings called The Art of Pastoring: Contemplative Reflections, by William Martin. This little book has gone a long way to nourish my soul and help me find God’s love amidst the often chaotic—and occasionally tumultuous—life in ministry.

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Helping Our Sister-Ministers by Pam Durso Wed, 30 Aug 2017 09:31:14 +0000 Watching the news this week has been painful. Hurricane Harvey just won’t go away, and the devastation left from Corpus Christi to Houston is heartbreaking for all of us. For me, it has felt really personal. I graduated from Beeville High School–just 60 miles inland of Corpus. Those small towns that were hit in the initial landing of the hurricane were football and basketball rivals for my alma mater.

Yet what has made these last few days more painful for me has been knowing that a good number of my sister-ministers live in the area. Their churches were damaged and took on water. Some members of their congregations have lost everything. These women are standing and will keep standing on the front lines of recovery efforts.

I have been checking on two of these friends via Facebook and text messages, and today as I prayed about how I could help, what I could do, I realized that we as sister-ministers need each other. We need to stand with each other and offer support and care.

Many of you know ministers and churches who will need your help, but if you don’t where to send your support and you want to reach out and help, here are the names and situations of my two friends:

My friend, Jewel London, is on staff at The Church Without Walls in Houston. She is one of the most amazing ministers I know. She is her name–a treasured Jewel, and in these last few days she has been busy ministering and caring for her congregation and preparing for long-term relief efforts. Here are some suggestions that her church posted on Facebook about ways that those of us outside of Houston can do to help:

Here are some things you can do RIGHT NOW as we prepare to provide much needed stability to those affected:
Continue praying for Sylvester Turner, Mayor of Houston, government officials, and first responders as they work around the clock to rescue stranded citizens and get them to a shelter.
Dig up those gift cards that you have not used and be ready to donate them to the cause. Walmart, Visa, MasterCard, Target, etc. These cards will be useful to families who will need to start over.
• Be ready to support the #HARVEY effort with contributions to TCWW, Red Cross, and the Greater Houston Community Foundation.
• If your employer is willing to donate resources: volunteers, food, finances, etc. please notify TCWW leadership. Start making a list of people to contact about helping us to help others.

If you want to support a sister-minister and her congregation as they provide care to those in need, visit The Church Without Walls website. 

Another friend, Becky Jackson, is minister of music at Lexington Baptist Church in Corpus Christi. Until late last night, her home had been without electricity since Friday night. The roof on her church was damaged during Harvey’s landfall, and yet Becky was there at the church on Sunday morning, leading a small group who worshiped on the sidewalk in front of the church. Hers is a giving spirit, a loving heart, and she has been a source of comfort for many in her congregation and neighborhood.

Today when I asked what was needed in her community, Becky wrote this:

“We are in desperate need of socks, athletes foot powder, and blister band-aids for all the first responders. We have trucks and crews who will use our church parking lot as a staging ground to go help in Rockport and Port Aransas. Pray that those of us without power get it back asap. Hard to help when we’re struggling. Today is the first it has gotten hot.”

You can support the relief efforts that Becky and her church will lead by giving to the Benevolence Fund at Lexington Baptist Church’s online portal.

I plan to give to support the work these two sister-ministers will be doing in the next months and even years. They will be doing brutally beautiful ministry, and I want to be part of what they are doing!

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

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THIS IS WHAT A MINISTER LOOKS LIKE: Mary Beth Foust Fri, 25 Aug 2017 10:00:19 +0000 Each week, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. This week, we’re thrilled to introduce Mary Beth Foust.

Mary Beth, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
My journey of call has been one that seemed to start as long ago as I can remember. I grew up with theologically educated parents and a mom on church staff. I traveled on mission trips and some of my first memories of church center around tables of homeless people in the fellowship hall of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. When I was twelve-years-old, my mom and I traveled to work with Shelia and Arville Earl in Macedonia and I knew then that something about my life was different. I have always had a bend in my journey to the poor and marginalized as well as to women and children.

Since then, I’ve been trying to listen and lean into each new pathway of ministry. I continued to travel to Macedonia and ultimately served a summer in college through Student.Go. I served a second summer with Student.Go and ended up working in the office with Amy Derrick, aiding with correspondence and logistics of summer and semester service as well as orienting students in preparation for service. After college, I married a minister and I see that as a unique part of my journey. His ministry with youth allowed me to serve and to pursue my own education as well.

I studied at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond and worked as the Admissions Counselor during my three years as a student. I also worked with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Virginia as an intern as well as an intern at Central Baptist Church where I was ordained. After graduation, I spent three months working at Westminster Canterbury of Richmond as a Pastoral Care Intern before beginning with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Virginia as the, then, Networking Coordinator. After some time in that position, it was determined that the budget of the organization could not sustain my position any longer and I was given six months to job search before it would end. During this same time, my husband was forced to resign from his ministerial position and we entered a major time of transition and questioning. I was the one who couldn’t run away from the church. Somehow, I believed if I kept showing up and holding my hymnal I would be reassured that God had not abandoned us, but instead was beckoning us back into the goodness and richness of our callings.

I took the first job that was offered because I had no other choice, I wish I could say at the time I believed it was my ministry, but I think that only took shape after the fact. I worked as the administrative assistant for a loan program that offered low-interest car loans to low-income individuals. During the six months working for that organization I learned in much deeper ways about those we were attempting to serve, but it was not a right fit for me. I then moved on to work as a bilingual parent educator through a home visiting program until my husband was called to a church in High Point, North Carolina.

Upon our move, I was a stay-at-home-mom, and then began working part-time at High Point University with the Bonner Leader Program. I currently serve as the assistant director of civic responsibility and social innovation, where I work with the Bonner Leader Program, serve as VISTA Supervisor, and aid in the development of a new minor at the University.

My experience is vast and varied and each new setting has presented new challenges for me. I learned that pastoral care really is a transferable skill and that often we know not what we are doing in the moment, but God continues to work and reveal newness in our calling as we journey on.
What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?

Oftentimes, I am my own greatest challenge. I have difficulty believing that what I do outside the church is real ministry. It seems I have never fit the mold for traditional ministry. (Thankfully, I was recently reminded that I was not born to fit any molds). Would the church who ordained me be proud of me for this work too?

Job loss was surely a great challenge. My husband and I were both forced into many questions about our own callings and places in ministry together and we came to realize that God is the one who calls; no church or organization can ever take away that calling by stripping you of a title.

Who have been your sources of inspiration and support along the way?
Thankfully, I am surrounded by a very large safety net of loving ministry mentors who have carried me when I most needed their love and support. I think it fit to leave a love letter of sorts to some of these love carriers of mine.

To Shelia Earl: the woman who told me at twelve that I should pay attention because God was calling me. We teased about it being my “Macedonia call.” She has loved me, encouraged me, and taught me SO much about how to be in relationship with people and about how to use the creativity that God gifts you with to give to others. I know I would not be the minister I am today without you and Arville in my life.

To Amy Derrick: the woman who dreamed dreams that students would experience the world and find themselves, I could not be more grateful for your vision, and for your unorganized self. You allowed me both to experience God in other cultures outside myself and to strengthen my coordination and organization skills. And you never stopped checking in on me and dreaming dreams for me.

To Nelson Taylor: the man who would listen to me talk on end for who knows how long and still find ways to challenge me and bring me into new ways of spirituality. Who affirmed what ordination was for me, who encouraged me to keep preaching and bringing my particular voice to texts, and who blesses me still with his vision for what the church could be in the world.

To Victoria White: for taking a chance on a seminary graduate who needed a safe place to land and for pushing me and reminding me that I am capable and worthy of it all. Thanks for always reminding me about perspective and being real with me—and for endearing yourself to my kid with lollipops. Genius.

To my own sweet family of ministers: When I joined the “family business” I didn’t realize what a unique gift it was to know that each one of my family members was living out their calling too. What a gift to call my sister and sermonize about things that matter, text my dad about complex theological ideas, complain to my husband about worship planning (ha, poor thing), and check my privilege after conversations with my mom about weeks of sheltering homeless men and listening to their stories. To my brother-in-law and father-in-law thanks for putting up with us and for following God’s call too. I love you all so, so much.

What advice would you give to teenage girls sensing a call to ministry.
My advice would be to pay attention to the gentle nudge (or maybe loud yells) from God and find ways to cultivate your calling. Let other people bring out the best in you and listen to them when they both affirm you and clarify your growing edges. While having women in senior pastoral leadership roles is something I value, cherish and affirm, it is not the only way your calling will be lived out—and it’s okay if you really feel that your gifting pushes you outside the “traditional” structure of ministry. Walk the path and look back to find the ways that all your experiences weave together at specific moments of clarity, each one of them is shaping you into the minister you were born to be.

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I Give to BWIM: Being Good and Doing Right by Kelly Moreland Jones Thu, 24 Aug 2017 10:00:27 +0000 “Always be a good little girl and always do what is right.”

In 1983, that declaration was imprinted on my life by a matriarch in our family, who wrote those words in my brand-new autograph book, which I received on my tenth birthday. The challenge and inherent dichotomies of living out those words is a tension that continues to color my life. The same year that Baptist Women in Ministry was founded this matriarch, an uneducated Southern Baptist woman who was the clearest picture of love in my life, called me to be good and to do right. I give to BWIM in honor of her.

I also give because I am called to support God’s work in our world. I see the hands and heart of God in BWIM’s vision: “Baptist Women in Ministry will be a catalyst in Baptist life, drawing together women and men, in partnership with God, to illuminate, advocate, and nurture the gifts and graces of women.” This organization works to right the scales of justice in Baptist churches that are hesitant to call women to ministerial positions. In this way, I see BWIM living out the call from scripture in Micah 6:8 to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

It is a joy and an honor to be good and do right by supporting Baptist Women in Ministry. Join me?”–Kelly Moreland Jones, student, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Nashville, Tennessee

Be 1 of 100! Baptist Women in Ministry currently has eighty-fifty individuals, churches, and organizations that give monthly to our work. We would love to have 100 monthly supporters, and this week we hope to add at least fifteen to our giving list! 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!
We invite you to join Kelly as a monthly giver and to be 1 of 100!

I Give because Blessing, Mentoring, and Coaching Matters by Katrina Brooks Wed, 23 Aug 2017 10:00:38 +0000 Baptist Women in Ministry is an organization grounded in advocating, connecting, and networking. This is not simply a tag line on a logo; it is a bold declaration of purpose and intentionality. Programs, events, resources, projects, and yes, even giving campaigns, are organic to the organizational mission.

I invest monthly in BWIM because I believe advocating, connecting and networking are essential to ministerial DNA. As we advocate, as we connect . . . as we network a breathtakingly beautiful pastoral identity forms. As we lean into it, our pastoral identity empowers us, equips us, affirms us, and even holds us accountable when necessary. It is this pastoral identity that makes it possible for us to live as beacons of hope, conduits of love, and icons of grace in our world.

Being a clergywoman is a gift that comes with tremendous responsibility. Not only are we to live out the holy calling we are to bless, mentor, and coach the next generation of ministers.

Why do I invest monthly in BWIM? I invest because advocating, connecting and networking matter. Ministers living into their pastoral identity matter. Blessing, mentoring, and coaching the next generation matters. I invest in BWIM . . . because BWIM matters.

Katrina Brooks is youth pastor at Madison Heights Baptist Church, Madison, Virginia, and campus pastor at Lynchburg College.

Be 1 of 100! Baptist Women in Ministry currently has eighty-five individuals, churches, and organizations that give monthly to our work. We would love to have 100 monthly supporters, and this week we hope to add at least fifteen to our giving list! 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!

We invite you to join Katrina as a monthly giver and to be 1 of 100!