Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces a fabulous minister, and today we are thrilled to introduce Melody Maxwell.
Melody, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
I grew up involved in church, and in seventh grade declared that I wanted to be a church secretary, since that was the only role I had seen for women in ministry. Through involvement with Woman’s Missionary Union organizations and camps as a young adult, I saw women serving in Christian leadership roles for the first time and began to develop my own confidence and voice.
I majored in Christian studies in college and attended seminary but often felt torn between ministry and academics. While serving as an editor for children’s missions materials, I began to work part-time on a PhD in Baptist history. In a performance review, my supervisor wrote, “I believe Melody will one day be a professor at a Baptist college or seminary.” At the time I thought she was crazy!
Yet today I am associate professor of church history at Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia, Canada, a new role that I am thrilled to fill. I spent the past five years teaching full-time at Howard Payne University, and I served as an adjunct at other schools before that. Over time I have gradually discovered that my passions for study and ministry work together wonderfully through teaching and research. I can’t believe I get paid to learn things and tell people about them!
What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
It has been life-giving to walk alongside female students as they discover their gifts and their voice and realize that God can use them in ministry without boundaries. It is really exciting to watch a young woman’s worldview expand through conversations with mentors and peers, by observing female ministers, and through the work of the Holy Spirit.
What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?
It is difficult when others, including those you are close to, do not support your ministry simply because you are a woman. Being one of the few women in a male-dominated academic context can also be challenging. I imagine that male professors have to think about their gender much less frequently than do female professors.
What troubles me the most is when I see passionate, gifted, and trained young women unable to find places of service because churches say they are not ready for female ministers. Churches, please let God bless you through these women!
What is the best ministry advice you have received?
Always keep learning.