“Kids say the darnedest things” during children’s sermons—and all those “listening in” know that they are often spot-on. On the day I introduced name tags for the entire congregation, I pointed to each child’s tag and asked, “Who are you?” Then I pointed to my tag with I-R-E-N-E in bold block letters and asked, “Who am I?”

“You’re the pastor,” a four-year-old girl proclaimed.

Everyone laughed . . . because I wasn’t.

However, I was the first woman minister to serve that church, and that child beamed a spotlight on the effect of women being front and center in worship leadership.

Steeped in the Baptist tradition, I accept soul competency and priesthood of every believer as basic doctrines of my faith. It follows then that I refuse to accept separating servant leaders by gender.

When Nancy Sehested and others proposed in the 1980s a national organization for Baptist women ministers, I joined the cause immediately, not as a pastor, but as an educational minister in support of my sisters. Gratefully, I was the one encouraged and inspired by all of them.

I believed then, and I know now, that BWIM raises the profile of women, giving opportunities for community, leadership, education and advocacy. Therefore, I give monthly to BWIM, so more small children—and all others “listening in”—will accept women leaders as natural and expected.–Irene Vinyard Bennett, who having “failed” retirement again currently serves as minister of congregational care, Western Presbyterian Church, Washington D.C.

Baptist Women in Ministry currently has 123 individuals, churches, and organizations that give monthly to our work. We would love to have 140 monthly supporters, and we hope to add seventeen more donors to our giving list this week! Small monthly gifts of $10 or $20 or larger monthly gifts of $50 or $75 make a significant difference!