We are a people of sacred words and stories. A people of the book. But before it was the book, it was stories passed along, shared among friends and family, and shaped by the teller’s own experience. We are still all people of story, even though today it can often feel like stories shared are curated just for social media and only valid if punctuated with hashtags and perfectly filtered images.

As Baptists, we are a people of testimony, we seek to share how we experience God with one another and to create places of sacred freedom for others to share testimony, places where we come together as the body of Christ to learn from each other. The Baptist Women In Ministry mentoring group is a story sanctuary where we bring both our triumphs and trials and share freely of the experiences that have encouraged us and the ones that keep us up late at night.

It’s in this mentoring group that I’ve found comfort in the difficulties of ministry. Here are women who have faced similar situations in their callings. Here are women who reach out to me with the presence of Christ, ministering to a fellow minister. Here are women that help me carry my burdens by holding them in prayer throughout the week. Here are women who offer words of wisdom and prayerful counsel.

It’s also within this group that I start to recognize myself reflected in the words and faces of those gathered. In their perseverance and creativity, I glimpse the image of God that is within us and I am encouraged and emboldened to co-create with God. In their compassion and dedication, I hear the echo of my own call and I am renewed in my dedication to the mission of God. In their celebration and success, we all amplify each other’s joy and bear witness to the great things God has done, is doing, and will do!

Together, we hold a space to share a life of ministry: to learn from each other’s experiences, to teach ourselves as we teach another, to strengthen others through what has brought us strength, to move through our failures by imparting the wisdom learned. To testify, to tell, to witness. To live, love, and learn.

Applications for 2018 Baptist Women in Ministry mentoring cohort will be available on August 1. For more information, visit the BWIM mentoring page.

Meg Thomas-Clapp is minister to youth and young adults at McLean Baptist Church in McLean, Virginia.