Saturday, July 17, 2010

This is What a Preacher Looks Like

During the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Charlotte in June, participants were invited to an early morning session on “Heightening the Role of Women in Leadership.” The conversation was initiated by a group of women and men who have been meeting for several months to encourage and nurture increased opportunities for women in leadership roles in all areas of Baptist life.

The facilitators reported some encouraging statistics including the fact that ordained women made up one-third of the chaplains/pastoral counselors endorsed by CBF this year and that six percent of senior pastors in Baptist churches are women. This is not to say that the numbers are satisfactory, but the trends are encouraging.

As we moved into small groups and brainstormed ways to encourage churches to provide more leadership opportunities for women, the ideas flowed freely. Our group suggested such actions as inviting a panel of women in ministry to talk to the congregation about their calling, struggles and what women bring to ministry. We even talked about the importance of not only opening up traditionally male leadership roles to women but “allowing” men to serve in traditionally female roles (like working with children). A very practical idea was offered by one of the young women in the group—the church should set the standard for society by adopting fair, gender neutral policies in the church (such as maternity and paternity leave policies).

Another highlight of the General Assembly for me was the book signing for This is What a Preacher Looks Like: Sermons by Baptist Women in Ministry. As I walked through the line getting the various chapters autographed by their authors, I was impressed by the diversity of the group—women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. Many have struggled and paid the price for leadership and others will be called to do so in the future.

So the conversation continues. I hope you will be part of it.

1 comment:

Eileen said...

Thanks for your support of women in Baptist in a host of ways, Ircel. And what a great picture! It was a fun event. ~Eileen