So I didn’t want to vote today. I decided first thing this morning that I just was not going to do it. It is hard to know who and what to believe in these campaigns, and frankly I just did not want to be involved in the bitterness of the whole thing.
But for some reason I kept my eye on Facebook today. People kept talking about voting. Some had very nice and kind posts that talked about harmony, prayers, and election day communion. Others were a little more harsh. Then one post caught my eye. My high school friend, Summer Stewart, whom I haven’t seen in years, posted this, “Exercising my Nineteenth Amendment right. Thanks Susan B. Anthony.”
Then I remembered.
As a Baptist woman minister my vocation and calling are defined by my belief in Galatians 3:28–that in Christ there is no male or female, slave nor free, Greek nor Jew. As someone with that belief and an identity which is defined by equality, am I really going to spit in Susan B.’s face by not voting?
Hmmm . . . so I decided maybe I should vote.
Feeling like I needed to look like a real person to vote, I changed out of my work-at-home clothes (T-shirt, jeans, and comfy sweater) into my Texas Baptists polo. At least I would look official. I went down the street to the Pentecostal church, gave them my license, and let them get me all signed up and ready to go.
But just then the silver-haired lady who wrote my name down on line number 51 looked up and seeing my shirt she said, “Texas Baptists? Do you work for Texas Baptists?” And I responded, “Yes, I do.” Of course, I already feared the next question . . . and she asked it: “What do you do with Texas Baptists?” I shrugged and replied, “Well, I work with women in ministry.” I find this conversation about my job is always difficult to have with strangers when I have no clue as to how they will respond.
Dorothy (by now I’ve looked at her name tag) looked off to the side and said, “Really? That is fantastic! I’m an ordained Baptist minister myself.” I was a little shocked and taken back, but I had the presence of mind to ask about her ministry. We started talking, and she told me that she is retired now but among the ministries in which she had served was a staff position at Second Baptist Church in Lubbock, Texas. She was ordained there in 1982. With a gleam of pride in her eyes she said, “I was the first Baptist woman ordained west of Fort Worth.”
We talked a little more about people we knew in common and the Episcopal church she now attends, but then our conversation ended. I voted and left to head toward the bank. Sitting in the bank drive-thru line, I realized what an amazing moment I just had. So as soon as I made my deposit I searched through my purse for a business card (it looked pretty ragged after being found at the bottom of a mom’s purse) and returned to the Pentecostal church. I walked in, gave Dorothy my card, and told her that I would like it very much if we could have lunch sometime and if she would tell me all her stories. I could tell that it meant a lot to her that a young Baptist woman in ministry valued her saga. After she thanked me and promised to call, she said, “Well I get that Voc . . . Vocar, what’s it called?” I told her it is Vocare from Baptist Women in Ministry and she told me, “Well, I remembered when we were trying to get that group going back in the early ’80s.”
I almost decided not to vote today, but if I had I would have missed meeting my newest friend–one of the women who saw the need for Baptist Women in Ministry to be started almost thirty years ago, and one of the women who paved the way for this young Baptist woman minister to be ordained west of Fort Worth.
Needless to say, I’m glad I voted . . . and I’m glad to have heroes like Susan B. Anthony and Dorothy Thompson.
Meredith serves as Women in Ministry Specialist for Texas Baptists and lives and votes in Abilene, Texas.