I just returned home from our first women's preaching conference which was entitled "Celebrating the Preaching Voices of Women." Tammy Abee Blom, TCBF's associate coordinator for leadership development, planned the program with the assistance of Cheryl Prose, Carolyn Blevins, Nennette Measels, and Amy Mears. Amy Mears and Elizabeth Evans (a former TCBF scholarship recipient) preached. Danny Chisholm and Amy led seminars. It was a good (OK, an excellent) meeting, and I will be debriefing it on this blog for awhile.
The gathering reinforced my conviction that "moderate" Baptists in the South have missed the mark by doing little to encourage women to pursue their calling to the pastoral role. To be very clear, we don't consider women as viable candidates to pastor our churches. Yes, we talk a good game, but the recent study by Eileen Campbell-Reed and Pam Durso on the state of Baptist women in ministry should cause us to hang our heads in shame.
I may be a traitor to my gender here, but I am continually amazed that if churches have a choice for pastor between a highly qualified woman and a marginally qualified man, the man will win out!
When the group was asked today, "What would be your response to having a woman pastor?" I replied, "I could get used to it!" Nennette said that was the right answer. I have had several women as mentors in my life, and I have learned as much from them as the men who have mentored me. I think it would be the same for a pastor.
Why don't we see more women in the pulpit? Because we don't give them the chance. I will reflect in a subsequent submission on the unique qualities that a woman brings to pastoral leadership, but isn't it time that we start acting like the progressive Baptists that we say we are and open the door to all called to the pastoral ministry?