Lately, I have watched and listened as Baptist women ministers across our country have used their voices—in powerful, life-giving, hopeful ways.

Yesterday, my friend, Karen, stood in the pulpit at McAfee School of Theology’s chapel and preached a beautiful, challenging sermon on Ruth 2 and radical hospitality. Karen serves at Peachtree Baptist Church in Atlanta, a congregation made up of folks from some fifteen countries. Her love for the community that surrounds her church building, her willingness to open her heart and her home to immigrants and refugees, and her personal passion for and commitment to radical hospitality took her last Sunday afternoon to the Atlanta airport, where she used her voice to speak her love of neighbor.

Last week, my friend, Alyssa Aldape, stood on the steps of the Supreme Court and used her voice to combat racism. Alyssa is the associate pastor of youth and young adults at First Baptist Church, Washington, D.C. In recent years, she has found her voice, and she is using it to speak out against oppression and hatred.  Her courage and willingness to work for justice inspires me every day.

A few weeks ago, so many of my Baptist women ministry friends marched—in Washington, D.C., in Atlanta, in Dallas, in Seattle, in Chicago. They sang and prayed. They used their voices to call for justice for all people. They raised their signs and stood with thousands of other women to call attention to gender inequality. Their voices were heard that day.

For the four hundred plus years that Baptists have existed in this world, women’s voices have mostly been ignored, and sometimes we forget that we have the power to bring change in this world simply by using our voices, by speaking our convictions, by calling out for justice and mercy. But I sense that 2017 is going to be different. The voices have gotten louder and stronger. They have united with other voices. They have spoken words of affirmation and blessing. They have called for generosity and grace. I believe that now more than ever in our history, Baptist women’s voices are bringing hope and light to a world in desperate need of hope and light. Thanks be to God.

Pam Durso is executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, Atlanta, Georgia.