Each week, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. This week we are excited to introduce Carrie Jarrell Tuning.
Carrie, tell us about your ministry journey.
I am a new church starter aligned with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. I pastor the H.O.P.E. (Helping Others Prepare for Eternity) Christian Fellowship Church in in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. Our motto is “A Church Where Everybody is Somebody and Christ is in Charge.”
I was born and reared in the rural city of Roanoke Rapids, which is located in Halifax County. I attended the public schools in Halifax County and graduated from Northwest High School. I continued my education and received a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Maryland, a Master of Science Degree from Central Michigan University, a Master of Divinity Degree from Howard University School of Divinity, and a Doctoral Degree from George Mason University.
I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior at an early age and joined Quankey Baptist Church, where I was a faithful member until I joined the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps. For the next twenty years, throughout my military career, I was under the watch care of military chaplains in various chapels at U.S. Army installations.
God called me into the gospel ministry in October 1994, and I later joined Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Triangle, Virginia, and was under the teaching and ministerial mentoring of Rev. Dr. Alfred Jones, Jr. I was licensed to preach in 1995 and ordained in 2014. Rev. Dr. Jones later appointed me to develop and oversee Mt. Zion’s children’s church ministry and I served there until starting my own church. While at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, I was also the spiritual adviser for the aide to the pastor and an instructor for the new members’ orientation ministry.
In 1995, God gave me a vision to start a jail and prison ministry at the Prince William-Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center in Manassas, Virginia. Since that time, the superintendent of the detention center has given me a weekly program through which I minister to the female inmates in the main jail.
What have been the greatest challenges you have faced in your ministry journey?
One of the greatest challenges that I have faced has been finding acceptance as a female servant of God. During my journey of seminary and interactions with various churches, some of the situations I encountered were very discouraging, but I knew that God’s word would not return to him void. My pastor was very supportive and was an awesome mentor. He provided me opportunities to serve in various capacities in the ministry and licensed and ordained me, as well as other women in his church, even though some of his colleagues did not accept female minsters. He stepped out on faith, knowing that we are all accountable to God. There were occasions early on in my journey in which I accompanied my pastor for his preaching engagements at other churches, and it was implicitly understood that my sharing the pulpit or even going in the study were not welcomed by other pastors. I delicately emphasized that I had learned to follow Proverbs 25:7, “It’s better to wait for an invitation to the head table than to be sent away in public disgrace.” (NLT)
What have been some of your favorite moments in church ministry?
Some of my favorite moments in church ministry have been teaching new members. Because I have a formal background in education along with a passion to serve, I enjoy equipping and empowering the new members with the Word of God. As a new members’ instructor, I, along with others in the ministry, were the first ones to interact with the new members as they become acclimated to their new church home.
The jail and prison ministry has definitely been a wonderful and rewarding experience for me. Because of my dedication, love, and compassion for the less fortunate, this ministry allows me the opportunity to evangelize, educate, equip, empower, and encourage others to advance the kingdom of God and become kingdom builders by their commitment to be led by the agency of the Holy Spirit at ALL times. Simply put, I work at “changing one life at a time.”
Who has inspired you along the way as you have lived out your calling?
I was inspired along the way by my parents, who instilled strong values in me at a young age. I was the youngest of eight girls and grew up in the rural Roanoke Rapids textile and farm community. By no means was I reared in a wealthy family, but I was empowered with a wealth of knowledge about the Lord and a strong set of values that focused on the importance of family and education. I was encouraged to stay on “Route 66 from Genesis to Revelation” and if I did, I would never go wrong. I am often reminded of my meager beginnings and how God has now, after forty years, called me to return to my roots in Roanoke Rapids to finish the good work that he has predestined for me.
Serving the Lord, my family, and education are my three priorities. On many occasions, I remind others that it is not enough for me to give charity but rather it is my duty to help build a society in which charity will not be necessary, a society in which people will feel free to worship God in spirit and in truth, a society in which no sick person will go unattended, a society in which no hungry person will go without adequate employment, and a society in which good schools will be provided for all. This is why I refer to myself as a “Servant for the Servant who must be about my Father’s business!”