Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry features an amazing minister on this blog. Today, we are pleased to interview Scarlette Jasper. Scarlette IS what a minister looks like!
Scarlette, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
My ministry journey started over thirty years ago. I always had a desire to serve others and began by volunteering in my local community. The more I did, the more I felt unfulfilled. I had this intense need to do more. As a woman and a member of a Southern Baptist church, I never felt I had the option of serving through a ministry setting.
My son, while a student at Georgetown College, became involved in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and he introduced me to a whole new world of ministry opportunities. I began the commissioning process to serve as a missionary through CBF and began seminary. I was commissioned in June of 2014 to serve in southcentral/southcentral Kentucky where I currently serve as well as parts of Tennessee.
I then discovered a CBF church in a neighboring town and began worshiping and serving at Cornerstone Fellowship Church in Monticello, Kentucky. The church ordained me on May 21, 2016. I serve as the pastoral assistant and youth minister. In the early years, I was not serving through a faith-based organization, but I have done nonprofit work for over thirty years. I have operated a homeless shelter, worked with survivors of domestic abuse, worked in financial counseling positions, as well as working with those in medical crisis among other nonprofit positions. I think this is often how women find a meaningful way to serve when they feel that other doors are closed to them.
What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
My greatest joy is to be able to do the work that I have always done and feel called to do, and now I am able to do that as a minister. Now I can openly share my faith with people and pray with them when in need. In some of my past positions, I was not even allowed to wear a cross to work. People should not have to hear we are a Christian from our mouths it should be apparent through our actions, but it was so hard for me to not be able to offer to pray with someone when they we breaking down in front of me due to facing foreclosure, facing medical crisis, or sharing about an abusive situation.
What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?
I still serve in an area where the prominent thought is that women cannot be in ministry. This can sometimes hinder partnerships that would be valuable for those we are trying to serve. I do not always share that I am ordained because for me it is about the work and not about who I am. The most important thing in serving The Kingdom in whatever capacity that I can. Another challenge for me was to pursue my M. Div. I had not been to school for 30 years when I started seminary. I could not ask for a more supportive environment than Baptist Seminary of Kentucky.
What is the best ministry advice you have received?
The best words of advice, “Do not let these obstacles get you down.” If someone does not want to partner with me because of my gender or who I am commissioned through, I move on. There are always other folks who are excited to see how we can uplift the people we serve and work together for the common good. Jesus dusted off his feet and moved on, and we can do the same.