Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces a fabulous minister, and today we are pleased to introduce Rosalie Beck. Rosalie IS what a minister looks like.
Rosalie, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
My ministry journey is still going. So far, it has taken me to Vietnam as a Journeyman missionary working with young people (1973-75), to guest preaching, teaching in churches, and to being a faculty member of the Department of Religion at Baylor University for thirty-five years. I started out pre-med at the University of California at San Diego, but I did not gain admission to medical school so I worked as a biochemist in the Department of biochemistry at University of Texas Medical School, Houston, for a few years. Then I became a Journeyman. While in Vietnam I realized I loved to teach and that I had a gift for doing just that. I returned to the states, evacuating when Vietnam fell in 1975, and then attended seminary. While studying for my Master of Divinity degree, I fell in love with church history, and the rest is “history.” I earned my Ph.D. at Baylor and have taught here for thirty-four-and-a-half years.
What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
My greatest sources of joy–easy. My students. When a former student returns to campus and visits, reminding me of our class and stating how our interaction has helped them through the years, I am overwhelmed with joy. All the committee meetings, all the grading, all the junk one endures in academia are forgotten in that moment of connection. Amazing.
A second joy is hearing from students who have pursued ministry because I provided a model for them, a model they had not previously experienced. Less now than in past years, the majority of my students have little experience of women in ministry. So, when they come to Baylor and encounter Beverly Gaventa, Elyse Edwards, Lidija Novakovic, Dierdre Fulton, Mandy McMichael, Natalie Carnes, Noel Forlini, and me in the classroom, teaching in all areas of study in the department, their options for professional life multiply exponentially. In my academic life, I had few women models. In college, I had one female professor in four years; I had no women professors in M.Div. or Ph.D. work. It is a joy to model active ministry to young women.
What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?
At times I have been grateful that I was not called to the preaching ministry. I can preach, but teaching is my call and gift. I have hurt for friends who have struggled with the traditions that deny women ministerial identity, but that has not been my lived experience. My greatest challenge has been loneliness. I was the first woman faculty member hired by the department in 1984 and the only female religion professor for seventeen years. Then Sharyn Dowd was hired to teach New Testament, and I was not alone. We now have eight women in a faculty of thirty-plus members, and life is much easier.
Benign neglect by well-meaning colleagues has been a reality through the years. Not being taken seriously in faculty meetings, until something I said was repeated by a male colleague has been particularly irritating. But the folks I have worked with through the years have been supportive of women in ministry and were open to learning that women colleagues are colleagues.
What ministry advice would you give to a college student who is discerning a call to ministry?
My advice to both male and female college students is simple. God wants all to love their ministry, whether sacred or secular, and seeking God’s will means finding out what we love and can do well. Loving God above all else, the greatest commandment, enables us to look in all directions for our “work.” While God calls some folks to specific places, and jobs, I believe God offers the majority of believers a number of options and is pleased when we follow our passion.