jayne DavisI’ll never forget the words scribbled at the end of my divinity school theology paper.  “Your words met a need in my own life.  I look forward to your future ministry.”

Future ministry?  I hadn’t even imagined that far ahead!  It is amazing how a word of encouragement, an affirmation that you are on the right track, can propel you into God’s future with passion and possibility.

Churches need encouragement that God is up to something in our midst.  Pastors need affirmation that they don’t walk this road alone.  We all need friends on the journey who notice the Spirit at work, who sharpen our thinking and stretch our imagination in ministry and in life.

That is the premise on which Hopeful Imagination was born in 2009.  As a staff at First Baptist Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, we felt God calling us to speak a word of hope and encouragement to pastors and to churches who were discouraged or stuck or just seeking a fresh wind for their sails to move into God’s future for their churches  So we decided to invite anyone who wanted to come to join us at our place to listen to stories of what God had been doing at our place.  We had no ‘models for ministry’ to share, only stories of transformation and hope; testimonies to what God can do if we give him room.

We partnered with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina, the Columbia Partnership, and the Center for Congregational Health, and in October 2010, we held the Hopeful Imagination conference–“encouraging traditional churches seeking God’s direction in a changing world.”  If seventy-five to one hundred folks had showed up, we would have been overjoyed.  Nearly 350 people from forty-five churches in five states made their way to Wilmington.  Why?  Because the church is hungry for words of Hope and in need of one another to spark creativity and imagination.

Today, Hopeful Imagination continues as a ministry to local churches and pastors.  Most recently we have added a spiritual formation page to our website, providing a space where folks involved in spiritual formation can find and share ministry ideas, spiritual practices and Christian education resources.  Each week the site is updated with a new idea, article or resource.

Hopeful Imagination is about churches encouraging churches. There are many great things happening in our congregations worthy to be shared and many more that could happen with some fresh ideas and a word of hope.

Baptist women in ministry–individually and collectively–thank you for the encouragement that you are to me and to the body of Christ.  “You have met a need in my own life.  I look forward to your future ministry.”


Jayne Davis


Jayne Davis is the minister of spiritual formation at First Baptist Church, Wilmington, North Carolina.