Prayers for The Journey: Supporting Women in Ministry

The following post is by our guest, Rev. Charlotte W. Myers. Rev. Myers is President Emeritus for American Baptist Women of the East Bay Area having served as President from 2008 to 2013. Her current appointments are as follows: American Baptist Women of the West, Coordinator of Personal and Leadership Development, Coordinator of Barbara Styles Fund, and Chair of 2014 Leadership Retreat Committee.

I received an email regarding the election of Rev. Young as incoming President Elect for the National Baptist Convention was thought provoking.  Carl Kenney said, “Young received 3,195 of the 6,400 votes cast. He won on a platform that promises to modify the organization’s infrastructure. Masses of women voted for Young despite his opposition to women in ministry. Men who serve with women on staff voted for Young.  No one seems to care.”

Kenney did not mention if there was a popular National Baptist candidate who advocated for women in ministry.  If so, what portion of the vote did that candidate receive?

Pushing back the prevailing bias against women in ministry has been the mantle many of us has bore. Some of us have simply continued to be present and active against the odds of succeeding to receive recognition or inclusion.  We simply show-up, ask for invitations and respond to every opportunity made available to preach and teach the Gospel.  Others have challenged ourselves and the people to embrace the ministries and missions of women.  Hoping to “win-over” increasing support and participation for women in ministry.  Yet, many of us remain in “Associate” positions or are pushed to the margins no matter how gifted or capable.

The debate over women’s capacity for ministry and leadership usually comes down to a dialogue centered on the interpretation of certain biblical passages prohibiting women from teaching and leadership roles.  However, the must perplexing realization is that our congregations continue their preference for male-dominated leadership. There is no denying that among our own people there is at this time a preference for male preachers and pastors.  No doubt the National Baptist Convention reflects and follows this pattern as well.

Then, I noted the names on the email.  Among the names are some of the most successful and accomplished Baptist women leaders and ardent male supporters for women in ministry.  I hope they share and find support for these practical steps to be interpreted into their work on behalf of women pastors and preachers. On the ABWIM website is a list of five-year strategies (2011 – 2015) advocating for increased numbers and participation for women pastors, preachers and teachers:

  • Establish and/or strengthen an active and available network and available resources for women in ministry.
  • Educate church congregations about women in ministry by conducting at least one event in each region and developing the resources to support the events.
  • Charge the ABWIM Advisory Committee to identify a measurable goal for increasing the number of women employed in ministerial positions.
  • Create an award recognizing an ABWIM advocate to be presented at the Biennials.
  • Establish a practice of recognizing inspiring women in ministry from diverse fields using the ABWIM web pages.
  • Create and distribute to women in or considering seminary a resource list of seminary opportunities and events that explore and encourage cultivating a ministerial call.
  • Develop an annual retreat or conference resource for women in ministry to strengthen mutual support and celebrate women’s gifts.
  • Develop specific projects to strengthen support and advocacy for African American women in ministry, Latina women in ministry, Asian women in ministry and Native American women in ministry.
  • Develop priorities for 2016-2020.

I believe, these intentional and provocative strategies can win broad support among our advocates, the Ministers’ Council, and MMBB and have the potential to create a landslide of positive congregational support for the service and call of women in ministry.

Let us pray:  Lord, the righteous judgment of God is intended to make us worthy of the kingdom of God.  We suffer for the sake of the spreading of the Gospel.  We ask only for your justice. Give relief to us and reveal the fulfillment of your promises for women called to serve the ministries of the Gospel. Send us mighty angels and inflict your judgment on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. We fear our separation from the presence of the Lord, if we fail in our commitment to be on one accord with your will for your people.  So, we always pray, asking that our God will make us worthy of his call and willing to fulfill our good resolve to undertake his works of power and faith. So that the name of our Lord Jesus might be glorified in us and we remain in him.  We pray according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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