Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces a fabulous minister, and today we are pleased to introduce Lauren McDuffie. Lauren IS what a minister looks like.

Lauren, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.

After I discerned a call to ministry during high school, my first opportunity to step into ministry was a summer serving through what was then known as the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Collegiate Congregational Internship program (now Student.Go). As the summer intern at Sardis Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, I was given opportunities to learn and lead in a number of different areas of ministry. I wasn’t sure at the time that I wanted to serve in a congregational setting, but I clearly remember walking away from the pulpit after preaching for the first time thinking, “yeah…I’m gonna keep doing that.”

At the time, I was a student at Vanderbilt University and a member of Glendale Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, a congregation that gave me abundant opportunities to begin learning ministry by being a safe and caring space in which to grow. In the years that followed I would become a student at Vanderbilt Divinity School and a pastoral intern at Glendale. I was also able to serve an internship at a local soup kitchen, gaining hands on experience with ministry outside of church walls.  Since graduating from divinity school and being ordained by Glendale in 2014, I have completed a Clinical Pastoral Education residency at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I worked in chaplaincy for a while longer before being called in the fall of 2016 to serve as the associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Morehead, Kentucky.

What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry? 

I am so grateful for the network of ministers who I have been able to connect with over the years, mentors and peers alike who create space to reflect, think critically, and be encouraged. This sense of connection in a vocation that can be very isolating is an absolute lifeline.

The young people I have been blessed to serve with, in congregations and in hospital chaplaincy, are a constant gift as they learn to see their unique role in the Kin-dom of God and as they teach me as much about that Kin-dom as I could ever teach them.

Every opportunity to shape a service of worship that guides a community to listen for the work of the Holy, and see where they can join in, is a joy that I can hardly believe I’m lucky enough to be part of.

What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry? 

The season of my vocational journey during which I waited, for about a year and a half, for a congregation to call me into full time ministry was a difficult one to journey through. I was so very lucky to be raised and trained in congregations that exhibited whole-hearted support for women in ministry, I just didn’t quite know what to do with all the doors I found shut during that season. I am definitely aware that every time I run across the little moments of disregard and disrespect that are something of a foregone conclusion in the lives of women ministers, those moments are added to the weight of just how long I waited for the affirmation of calling that comes with a congregation saying “yes.”

What is ministry advice would you give to a teenage girl discerning a call to ministry? 

Seek out a variety of people and experiences to help you cultivate and understand your call. I think I am a better congregational pastor for having spent time serving and learning in other ministry settings, and I continue to learn new ways to do my work from peers and mentors who serve in ministries that look and feel very different from my own. And especially, find mentors and encouragers who will remind you that you are gifted and called!