Each Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces a Baptist woman serving in ministry, and today, we are pleased to introduce you to Stephanie McLeskey.
Stephanie, tell us about your current ministry role.
I serve as the university chaplain at Mars Hill University, in Mars Hill, North Carolina.
What previous ministry roles have you held?
I served as campus minister at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, and as interim minister of adult education at Milledge Avenue Baptist also there in Athens. While in seminary, I worked with the summer camp and afterschool program at Wieuca Road Baptist Church in Atlanta.
Tell us about some of the bumps in the road you have encountered in ministry
My road gets bumpiest any time that I find my confidence in my call at a low point. As someone who didn’t grow up in the faith, I still occasionally find myself feeling bewildered, as an immigrant to a strange land where I don’t know all the customs or know all the language—even after all these years of service. I sometimes find myself wondering how I ended up here. Fortunately, those moments can turn pretty quickly from doubt and despair to awe and wonder.
The other bump, more specifically related to being a woman minister, relates to a pregnancy loss that many people knew about and then a later successful pregnancy that led to the birth of my daughter. People were, for the most part, very loving and supportive. The difficulty was in my own reaction. As a private, introverted person, I had not imagined what it would feel like for my reproductive status to become such a big part of my public identity. This is a challenge around which (thankfully) some conversation has begun, and I hope that wider conversation continues in settings like BWIM.
Who has inspired you in your ministry journey?
I have been inspired by book-writing heroes, Barbara Brown Taylor, Joan Chittister, Frederick Buechner. The daily inspiration, though, the pick-me-up-off-the-floor inspiration, comes from my peers in ministry. The year I spent working alongside Amy Shorner-Johnson and Erica Hartman Cooper was transformative, as we supported each other and heard each other’s victories and doubts early in our ministry journeys. Inspiration comes from my students at Mars Hill and my former students at University of Georgia. Seeing them struggle with the big questions and watching their desire to grow and to change the world for the better renews my own desire, and keeps me going day by day.