Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry proudly introduces an amazing minister. Today, we are pleased to introduce you to Elizabeth Squires.
Liz, tell us about where and how are you currently serving in ministry?
In April of this year, I began a new chapter in my life. I am now in full-time ministry in Pennar Community Church in Pembroke Dock, West Wales. I am pastor of this congregation made up of forty to fifty people.
God has called me to the most beautiful part of Wales, and I am feeling blessed by my surroundings. As I learn more about the people in church and in this community, I don’t doubt that God will use them to bless my life and my ministry too.
I came to Pembroke Dock from a small church in the Welsh Valley’s where I served as a part-time minister. I miss the people there with whom I had ministered with for nearly five years, but I am really excited by new opportunities and experiences that are opening up in front of me.
What experiences have shaped and prepared you for your present role?
I became a Christian at age eleven in the Salvation Army. In the Salvation Army, women are considered equal to men when it comes to leading, preaching and ‘doing’ church. At eleven, I knew God was calling me ministry, and it seemed very normal at that time, and that experience shaped my formative years in the faith.
When my parents and I left the Salvation Army and joined a local Baptist church, I found that women did not have as prominent a role, but the stirring to ministry didn’t completely leave me. In 1997, South Wales Baptist College affirmed God’s call on my life as they accepted me for ministerial training.
Along the way, I have witnessed church both at its best and at its worst. I studied for a time at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and there I found that church could be a place of openness, transparency, acceptance, and love. Yet some of my other church experiences have been the complete opposite of all those things. Both negative and positive experiences have molded me into the minister I am today.
I know that when church works, it is an amazing, life-affirming and faith-changing experience as God unfolds His plans for all of our lives. That’s why I love doing what God has called me to do–because God changes people–and that makes everything worth it.
Who has inspired you along the way as you have lived out your calling?
I will always be thankful that when God called me in to ministry, women in leadership was normal, but the first person that inspired me was Hetty Watkins, my music teacher in school. She believed in me. She encouraged me to blow my own trumpet (literally) and that caused a shy teenager to gain some confidence.
The minister I was placed with during my first year in Baptist College was John Hayward, and he became my mentor after I left college. He showed me what it meant to have the heart of a pastor, that it was good to love the people God places you among. His untimely death in 2013 was a shock to his community; such was the impact he made on people.
I loved my time at Campbell, and would love to have spent more time soaking up the influence of people like Pam Durso, Joyce, Mashtare, Kheresa Harmon, and Clella Lee (I could go on). They were filled with love and kindness and affirmed the gifts God had placed in all those in their care.
In more recent years, one of my inspirations has been a friend. Delyth Jenkins has shown me what it is to be a woman of faith, as she trusts God through all things. She challenges me when my anxieties and questions get too loud!
What advice would you give a teenage girl who is sensing a call to ministry?
I would tell her to trust what is going on within, regardless of what outside influences tell her. I would encourage her to look for and talk to people (women) who are in ministry, to hear their stories and to learn from them.
I would tell her to spend time praying and studying her Bible, because really, the only approval that matters is God’s and He can bring about His plans and purposes in the most surprising of ways! After all, look at what He’s done in the life of a shy Valley’s girl from Wales! Who’d have thought?