In January, Baptist Women in Ministry announced that our 2020 theme would be a profound quote from Dag Hammarskjöld: “For all that has been, Thank you! For all that is to come: YES!” His words are ones that I have held in my heart for many years and were chosen for this year’s theme way back in October 2019 with the intention of inspiring gratitude for God’s faithfulness and receptivity to the Spirit’s continuous movement. Little did I know that the quote would become my story in 2020.
For those of you who know me well, you know that I love BWIM with my whole heart. I love the work I do. I love the opportunities for ministry I have. I love the mentoring, coaching, advising, comforting, and encouraging I do. Every day I have opportunity to sit with, pray with, or have conversations with women ministers—some in crisis, some discerning next steps, some needing a friend, others needing to hear hard truths. And every day, every single day now for nearly eleven years, I have been grateful for this gift of grace. I have often said in public spaces that I have the best job in the world, and it is true. Being executive director of BWIM has been the very best job for me, and I fully expected to serve in this role until retirement.
Yet in the surprising ways in which God so often works, I felt the Spirit in these last few months nudging me, stirring within me new dreams. I eventually realized that it was time to take the advice that I so often give to others: “Open your heart. Dare to be brave. Don’t let fear hold you back. Listen for the Spirit. Listen to the Spirit. Follow the Spirit.”
In January and again in February, I sat with the presidential search committee at Central Baptist Theological Seminary and explored possibilities with them. Every step of the way, I felt the presence of the Spirit, nudging me forward, and like Dag Hammarskjöld, I said “Yes” to all that is to come.
On June 1, 2020, I will become the eleventh president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary. Just typing those words gives me pause, because it means that I will say goodbye to the work that I have loved so much. Saying “Yes” comes with the hard reality of letting go.
This week as my “Yes” became even more real to me, I did what I always do when I need some extra encouragement: I pulled out my John O’Donohue book, To Bless the Space Between Us, and searched for words of comfort and insight. These are the words I found:
your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
Thanks be to God for words of wisdom and encouragement from Dag Hammarskjöld and words of challenge and assurance of John O’Donohue.
Pam Durso is executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, Atlanta, Georgia.