This month, the BWIM blog features the stories of women who have been a part of the BWIM Mentoring Program. Applications are being accepted for the 2020-2021 cohort through September 15. Visit www.bwim.info/mentoring-program/ to learn more.
When I applied to be part of the Baptist Women in Ministry mentoring cohort, I was hoping to reconnect with fellow Baptist women in a season of life that has called me to a nondenominational church. I was eager to meet conversation partners who were also going through the rhythms of associate pastoring and wanting to discern next steps in a community of supportive women.
Of course, my cohort has given me that and more. I’m not burying any lead. Coming into a season when I felt unsure about so many things—if I’d be able to get insurance at my church as a part-time minister; if I’d be able to write children’s curriculum for a congregation with many different operative theologies; if I’d be able to hack it as a pastor at all—it felt like a gift to be met with reassuring conversations and encouraging prayers. It speaks to the strength of the program that it is, in fact, exactly what I hoped it would be.
I’ve also been particularly grateful for my cohort in light of an unexpected medical issue that came up this past spring. After finding a mass in my breast (which, after three months of testing, imaging, and waiting, has been deemed, with some frustration, “maybe nothing” by my doctor), these were among the first women with whom I shared my nerves and uncertainty. Being met with advice and stories ameliorated some of my fears, and knowing they were checking in on me was a comfort. My group has developed a warm culture of care, and I’ve come to rely on them and the assurance they speak into my life.
We’ve gotten to read together, commiserate, discern, and challenge one another, and I don’t mean to make trite the ways I’ve come to love them by reducing or oversimplifying our exchanges to a list. The nature of our relationship is that we don’t talk every day or see each other often. But the presence of these women is steadily known to me in the background of my ministry and relying on the hum of their encouragement isn’t something I’ve taken for granted. They’ve helped me to gain confidence and context in my first year out of divinity school as I learn to straddle the lines of bivocational ministry. They’ve given me room to think through where the Holy Spirit is moving and identified beautiful things in my ministry that I haven’t always been able to see or say for myself. Moving forward, I feel grateful to carry these women with me as they’ve carried me.
Rhody Mastin is pastor for children and families at Emmaus Way Church, Durham, NC. She is a part of the 2019 BWIM Mentoring Cohort.