In 2007, Baptist Women in Ministry invited Baptist churches to participate in Martha Stearns Marshall Month of Preaching by having a woman preach during the month of February. This invitation became an annual event, one that has been a source of joy and discovery for many churches as they have celebrated the giftedness of women preachers.
BWIM named this annual preaching month for Martha Stearns Marshall, an eighteenth-century Separate Baptist woman preacher, and for twelve years, hundreds of churches have celebrated Martha’s influence and example. In 2019, BWIM redreamed this emphasis and has widened its circle of significant preachers to include three other significant Baptist preachers: Ella Mitchell, Helen Barrett Montgomery, and Edna Lee de Gutiérrez.
Edna Lee de Gutiérrez grew up in Mexico City. Since her father was of Chinese origin and her mother of Mexican origin, Edna grew up in an environment where all people were welcomed and respected, regardless of race, nationality, or social status. While her family was financially stable when she was born, sickness and injustice soon resulted in their poverty. Her Christian parents, however, taught their children that they were rich because they had God’s abundant wealth in Jesus Christ. Edna wrote, “There were days we didn’t have much to eat, but love, care, encouragement, faith, and hope were always plentiful.”
Edna’s upbringing led her to commit her life to ministering to the poor and to serving the Baptist community around the world. In 1958 she married Rolando Gutiérrez, who was pastor of several churches in Managua, Nicaragua, as well as Horeb Baptist Church in Mexico City. Horeb was a small congregation, which was committed to meeting the needs of the poor and the imprisoned and working with victims of illiteracy, drug addiction, and prostitution. When an earthquake hit Mexico City in 1985, Edna led the women in the congregation to transform the church’s facility into a relief center, feeding hot meals to 6,000 people each day for three months and caring for forty-five families living in tents. When her husband died in 1997, Edna became pastor of Horeb Baptist Church and served in that position for more than eighteen months. She shared her experience and wisdom as a minister, a leader among women, and a minister’s spouse in three books: Mujer; Para la esposa del pastor, con amor; and La vida en el Espiritu.
Edna’s ministry among Baptists stretched throughout Latin America and across the world. She served as the first woman president of the Mexican National Baptist Youth Union. In addition, she was president of the Nicaraguan Baptist Convention and president of the Baptist Women’s Union of Latin America. In 1985, Edna began a five-year term as president of the Baptist World Alliance’s Women’s Department. At the Sixteenth Baptist World Congress Gathering in Seoul, South Korea, in 1990, she was elected vice president of the Baptist World Alliance. She also served on the BWA’s general council, executive committee, and church leadership commission.
Throughout her life, Edna Lee de Gutiérrez partnered with her husband and women and men in her church and around the world to do ministry. She wrote, “There is a blessing in the partnership of the ministry but let us not forget that we have our own resources. Freely we have received, let us freely give what we have.” Today Baptist Women in Ministry invites you to remember and honor Edna Lee de Gutiérrez, a gifted Baptist woman who shared her own resources to minister and to proclaim the gospel.