Judy bailey cap and gown 1Each Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry features its blog series, THIS IS WHAT A MINISTER LOOKS LIKE and introduces you to an amazing woman minister. This week we are proud to introduce Judith B. Bailey, a member of Baptist Women in Ministry’s Leadership Team.

Judy, what does ministry look like for you right now?  

My work toward a Ph.D. in American Studies (The College of William and Mary in Virginia, May 2014) and many years of activism on the part of religious women culminated in my dissertation on feminist theology and Baptist women pastors. I am one of the founders of Virginia Baptist Women in Ministry and currently serve on the VBWIM board. I am involved in new initiatives with Baptist Collegiate Ministry and the Virginia Baptist Ministers Discussion Group in addition to helping with a yearly celebration that we call FEAST. I am becoming more involved in my church, serving on the pastor search committee and as vice moderator. I am teaching a series of Sunday School classes on “How My Mind Has Changed,” and I am using the latest publication by The Christian Century as well as sharing my story and encouraging others to share theirs. I find the greatest expression of my calling in the intersection of faith, academics, and activism.

Where and how have you served in the past?

For twenty-one years I was a Baptist campus minister (or director of Baptist Campus Ministries) at the University of Richmond. I served as co-pastor with my husband at Taylorsville Baptist Church in Doswell, Virginia for eight years and as interim co-pastor for three years at Oakland Baptist Church, Gum Spring, Virginia.

Who was the first woman minister you remember meeting? Who was the first woman you hear preach?

I encountered my first woman pastor as a child in the Methodist Church in west Tennessee. I was ten years old when “Sister Booth” led our small congregation. I liked her, but I did not like the fact that she usually became very emotional and cried during her sermons. It made me uncomfortable.

What advice would you give to a teenage girl who might be discerning a call to ministry?

My first advice would be to listen—and be confident in her relationship with God. She should seek the counsel of those who believe in her and support her. The sense of call that is supported and affirmed by others is the greatest source of strength that women have. I would also advise her to find opportunities to practice ministry and pursue her education not only in theology, but also in the historical, sociological and psychological systems that shape and form us.