This week we received a lovely note in the mail from a former student of Sarah Frances Anders. Sarah Frances passed away on June 8 at the age of ninety, and we at Baptist Women in Ministry mourned her death but we also celebrated her many contributions to our Baptist world, her strong advocacy for women ministers, and her pioneering work as a keeper of records for Baptist women’s ordinations. Her former student, however, remembered her as a mentor, as a beloved professor who took the time to write a recommendation and get him started on his way. Because of her, this student had a long and meaningful ministry of his own.

This week at Baptist Women in Ministry we launched the second “official” cohort for our Mentoring Program. For five years we had a rather informal structure for this program with limited funds. But last year we received some grant money and were able to formalize and give structure to our Mentoring Program. Twenty new-to-ministry Baptist women participated in our first cohort. They were divided into five groups, and each group was led by a exceptionally gifted, seasoned minister. This year has been one of great discovery for me in overseeing this program. It has confirmed what I already knew to be true. A mentor changes everything for a new minister, and because of her,  that minister is much more likely to have a long and meaningful ministry of her own.

The application for the 2018 mentoring cohort is now available. You can find it here.  If you are a young or a new-to-ministry Baptist woman, we would love for you to apply. If you know a young or new-to-ministry Baptist woman, spread the joy. Tell her about this program. Encourage her to apply.

Today, I celebrate Sarah Frances Anders and the many mentors among us–the women who encouraged us to explore all our gifts, who challenged us to live fully into our calling, who motivated us and inspired us to keep serving when we wanted to give up, who supported our wildest, boldest and most beautiful dreams for ministry, and whose presence made us stronger, wiser, and better. I invite you to celebrate with me. Post a photo of your mentor on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. Use the hashtag #becauseofher! If you know me well, you know what comes next: if possible send her a handwritten thank you note and tell her that “because of her.

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