Each week, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. This week, we are thrilled to introduce Nancy Stanton McDaniel. 

Nancy, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served.
I have always loved the church, and I have had a very ecumenical life. I was born to a Salvation Army father and a Presbyterian mother. We were Presbyterians until I was twelve-years-old when I decided to join the Methodist Church because they had a good junior choir, and I love to sing. When I was in college, I found myself surrounded by Baptists and began attending a Baptist church. It was during my college years that I understood about the Lordship of Christ and also became a Baptist. While teaching elementary school, I felt called to the ministry. It was not until seminary that I felt that pastoral ministry was my calling, but I did not believe that would be an option for me in the Baptist denomination. So I studied everything from preaching to choir directing to be as equipped as I could be for whatever God had in store for me. However, I felt that I would be a Minister of Education–after all, I had wanted to be a teacher since I was in third grade.

During my last year of seminary, I served as an intern minister at Watts Street Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina. The church wanted to affirm my ministry through ordination and I was ordained on July 10, 1977. Shortly after ordination, I was called as the minister of education at Green Ridge Baptist Church in Roanoke, Virginia. I ministered there for two and a half years and learned a great deal about ministry in the local church. I was called to First Baptist Church of Martinsville, Virginia in February 1980 and ministered there for twenty years–first as minister of education and then as associate pastor for education. In 2000, Rhoadesville Baptist Church in Orange County, Virginia called me to be their pastor. I have served with the people in Rhoadesville for sixteen years. My ministry journey has not been easy and there have been obstacles along the way, but God has been faithful.

What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
The greatest joy of my ministry has been the people, especially the children. I love ministering in hospitals and nursing homes and visiting in people’s homes. Relationships with my church family and people in the community bring me great joy, for I am a people person.

What have been your greatest sources of challenge in ministry?
The greatest challenge has been being a woman in ministry. I know that my experiences are sadly not different from other woman pastors; we all could tell similar a story. There have been times that a pastor would not officiate at a funeral with me because I was a woman. There have been many times that I have been told that I could speak but not preach in a church’s pulpit. And there was a time that two churches would not have an associational meeting in their sanctuary because I was giving a report on a mission trip and they probably thought I might start preaching. I am thankful that God sees and knows our hearts and affirms our calls to serve our Lord and others.

Who and what have been some of the best sources of encouragement for you along the way?
From the early part of my life, my parents have been the biggest source of encouragement. My mother, at age ninety-two, continues to be my best cheerleader. I also receive great emotional and ministry support from my women pastors’ group and from my peer learning group. These are two monthly meetings that I do not miss, for they are made up of like-minded Baptists who hear one another and encourage one another extremely well.

What advice would you give to a teenage girl who is discerning a call to ministry?
I would encourage a teenage girl to follow her heart. If God has called her, God will open doors of ministry and service. Be faithful, bold, and courageous and know and realize that a call to ministry is a high calling indeed.

One more thing. I want to share this story that happened a few months ago. Emma Grace, my granddaughter of my heart, and I were watching a movie together. In the movie, there was a grandfather who was a preacher. When Emma Grace realized that this grandfather was a preacher, she said to me, “NanNan, I thought only girls could be preachers!”

Nancy Stanton McDaniel with Emma Grace.

Nancy Stanton McDaniel with Emma Grace.

Nancy Stanton McDaniel is pastor of Rhoadesville Baptist Church and president of the Baptist General Association of Virginia (She is the first ordained woman pastor to serve in that capacity).