“All Shall Be Well”
These words of Julian of Norwich were emblazoned on the mug of coffee that I drank as fast as I could on a cool winter morning in Cullman, Alabama. While just four simple words, their message has always been profound to me and were especially meaningful as I was beginning my journey with the Baptist Women in Ministry mentoring program. When this program began, I was a new mother navigating the demands of motherhood and the growing demands of ministry. It seemed as though my life was in a constant state of transition. I was serving in a relatively new position in an area that was unfamiliar and far away from family that could regularly help with my daughter. It was at that time when I recognized the need for a group of peers who could support me, help me grow, and celebrate my joys. I knew what I needed, but I never could have imagined what I would receive from the BWIM mentoring program.
There I sat in the cafeteria of the Sacred Heart Monastery with my five-month-old baby and twenty new sisters in ministry. Over those three days, I learned that all shall indeed be well. It was the first time I would care for my child without the help of my spouse and partner in ministry, but there were plenty of hands to hold her and show her love. All shall be well. It was the first time that I would be able to gather in a circle of beloved sisters and share vulnerably the joys and struggles I faced in my own ministry. All shall be well. It was the first time I was able to spend extended time with other women who were all seeking companionship in ministry too. All shall be well.
When I departed from a restful (or as restful as it could be with a five-month old) retreat at Sacred Heart, my heart was full of affirmations, ideas, and a resolve to be intentional about my spiritual growth and self-care. I was eager to have my first Zoom conversation with my mentoring group comprised of four other associate pastors led by one seemingly fearless, much wiser, long-time serving associate pastor. Just as I hoped, our monthly conversations were invigorating. We would spend time catching up, but then were also intentional to have dialogue about a number of topics: self-care, spiritual practices, women in leadership, and so much more. Our conversations felt so natural and our connections felt so authentic. Personally, I struggled vocationally during part of our year together and would not have traded the camaraderie, encouragement, and guidance for anything. These women became my tribe. When life grew difficult, they reminded that all shall indeed be well and then helped me find a path through the difficulty.
When the program concluded, we recognized that we shared so much life together that we could not just set aside. Our group decided to continue meeting on a monthly basis not only to catch up, but to intentionally stand beside one another, reminding each other that all shall indeed be well. The Baptist Women in Ministry mentoring program shaped my ministry journey in ways that I could have never imagined. My group, in particular, stood by me, encouraged me, and provided me with direction and camaraderie that I needed most in my difficult times, but also in the times that were joyful. For these women, I give thanks and know that the future for Baptist women called to ministry is bright. All shall indeed be well.
Katie Callaway is co-pastor of First Baptist Church, Savannah, Georgia, along with her husband, John. Katie was a part of the 2018 BWIM Mentoring Program Cohort.