“I really needed to hear that,” voiced a student following the second lecture of the Cornerstone Series at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. The Cornerstone Series Bible Lectures, endowed by Lee and Lunelle Hemphill in honor of his parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. C.W. Hemphill, recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. The preacher at this year’s celebration, Kyndall Rothaus, is pastor of Lake Shore Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, and author of Preacher Breath. Kyndall is not only a pastor, she is a poet. The rhythm and creative use of imagery found in her writing and preaching captures the attention and heart of her readers and listeners. Kyndall’s gifts and skills as a preacher and writer are beautiful, but ultimately, it was the words “I really needed to hear that” that struck me that day. I can’t stop replaying those words.
I discerned my own call to be a minister on the campus of Hardin-Simmons–in that very same auditorium where Kyndall lectured. As a student, I heard many lecturers, preachers, and speakers, and many times my response was “I really needed to hear that.” But I have realized that I not only needed to hear honest engagements with hard topics like Kyndall’s “The Voices of Hope,” in which she moved through lament, protest, and imagination to make her points, I also needed to hear those words in a feminine voice. Kyndall’s very presence, as a woman in leadership speaking to the concerns of our day, provided hope on our campus.
How are you ensuring young women hear voices of hope like Kyndall’s? As a young female minister who has been influenced by so many bold women in ministry who paved the way for me, I feel a degree of responsibility to ensure that the women who come after me will hear and see women speaking and preaching. Whether it is from the back of an auditorium, in a classroom, or in a place of worship on a Sunday morning, women need to see other women standing behind the lectern and the pulpit.
There are women in Baptist life to celebrate. We need to hear from them. I urge you today to consider how you might contribute to the effort to put women role models in front of the next generation of women who are seeking their call. They must have images, a great variety of images, of what it looks like to be a woman in ministry. They must see women leading and preaching in Baptist churches, classrooms, auditoriums, and chapels so that they too have opportunity to say “I really needed to hear that.”
Sarah Greenfield is pastor for emerging adults, First Baptist Church, Abilene, Texas.