From the editor: This week, Baptist Women in Ministry celebrates an anniversary. Thirty-four years ago, on March 20-21, 1983, thirty-three women met and dreamed into existence a new organization that would advocate for and support Baptist women ministers. The women concluded that a gathering for Baptist women ministers should be held on June 11, 1983 prior to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Vallerie King, then a seminary student and now a pastor in Virginia, attended that June meeting, and today she shares her memories on the BWIM blog.

In the summer of 1983, I had just completed my first year at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as a Master of Divinity student. When I returned to campus in the fall, I would be co-leading, along with my friend, Rachel, the Women in Ministry group at Southern. Because of my involvement with Women in Ministry on campus, I learned that a national group was forming, and the first meeting would be held during the Southern Baptist Convention’s meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Rachel and I decided it was important for us to attend.

Over the summer break, I went back home to Silver Spring, Maryland to take a job as a bank teller. Because I had no car, I took a Greyhound bus to Pittsburgh and stayed overnight in a college dorm room at Duquesne University. The next day, I attended the first meeting of Southern Baptist Women in Ministry, which was held in a small conferences room in the convention hotel.

What struck me the most about that meeting was the wonderful presence of Carolyn Weatherford. She was a fierce advocate for women in ministry. I remember being surprised that the executive director of the Woman’s Missionary Union would be such a strong supporter of women ministers. Her courage and fortitude made everything seem possible. Molly T. Marshall and Reba Cobb also attended the meeting. These were two women I knew and greatly admired. There were other well-known women present, who I came to know and recognize over the years.

Rachel and I sat together and took it all in. The plans were bold, yet it all seemed so natural. The group decided to begin a publication that would be a voice for women ministers. The mood in the room was joyous. The Holy Spirit filled the space with such power and peace.

It didn’t occur to me at the time that I was watching history being made. But I knew that what was being started would continue. There was such hope, strength, and giftedness in the women present. The time had come, our kairos moment had arrived.

After the meeting, I boarded another Greyhound bus and returned home. I could never have imagined that one day Baptist Women in Ministry would be the large, national organization it is today. I am grateful that pioneering women had the courage and foresight to start this organization. I am also grateful that as a first-year seminary student, I got to witness history in the making.

Vallerie King is the pastor of Emmaus Baptist Church in Providence Forge, Virginia.