At Royal Lane Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, we don’t simply want to acknowledge that women are equipped, gifted, and called to lead in all ministry positions during one Sunday of one month. We want to affirm that women can be ordained leaders in the church each and every day of every week. To that end, the ministry staff of Royal Lane invited four women to be our guest preachers for the month of February. Our Month of Preaching Day became a true month of preaching as the ministerial staff hoped to bring attention to not only the prominence of women in ministry, but to the number of women who continuously help lead congregations across Dallas.
Royal Lane’s Women in Ministry month began with Rev. Victoria Robb Powers, senior associate pastor at University Park United Methodist Church preaching about the wild and unrestricted blessings that God gives all people through Jesus. Then Rev. Robin Murray, the assistant minister of children’s ministry of Abundant Life African Methodist Episcopal preached boldly about how God orchestrates miraculous things through powerful women. Rev. Kristin Warthen, pastor for marriage and family ministries at White’s Chapel United Methodist Church, told the story about the woman of Endor, the medium, who did what most men wouldn’t do–she fed her enemy. And finally, Rev. Lisa Hancock, Ph.D. candidate in religious studies at Southern Methodist University, preached her own powerful story of being married to a person with cerebral palsy. She told of how Jesus’ power dramatically flowed out of him in a way that made him the disabled Christ.
When preparing to bring our four fabulous guest preachers to Royal Lane, we noticed that all of the suggested proclaimers serve in Methodist congregations. Each of them noted that they had Baptist roots and heritage, but were unable to find ministry positions or places of inclusion in Baptist churches. Although Royal Lane participates in Month of Preaching in February every year at the prompting of the Baptist Women in Ministry organization, all four of our preachers do not serve in Baptist congregations. And that has to change. Baptist churches should continue to create ministry positions for women and hire women as pastors. We need more than one Sunday a year to hear from ministry leaders who are women as the story of women in ministry must be preached, taught, and celebrated all the time. Until that day comes, Baptist women will find it difficult to find or remain in ministry roles in their chosen denomination.
Rev. Warthen shared an African proverb that rang true for Royal Lane during Women in Ministry month. The proverb says, “Until the story is told by the lion, the story will always glorify the hunter.” It seems that the narrative of men being the primary ordained leaders doesn’t support the powerful story of women and their prominence in the church. It is my hope that by having four women share their journeys of ministry and leadership at Royal Lane, we have not only celebrated women in ministry, but have told the story of the divine and glorified God.
Royal Lane Baptist Church affirms that all people, men and women of all ethnicities, identities, and orientations, have been created and called to serve God and lead God’s people. Women in Ministry Month has reaffirmed for Royal Lane Baptist Church and, I hope, for the city of Dallas that we are all helpers and servants of God and mightily equipped to lead the church into a new and powerful story, a story which affirms that every month is Women in Ministry month.
Mike Gregg is pastor of Royal Lane Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas.