|Pam Durso of Baptist Women in Ministry|
Many friends in local African-American churches participated in special Martin Luther King Day events this weekend. They were not simply celebrating the life of this courageous leader, they were affirming the message that he preached and committing themselves to continuing to pursue his dream. For these folks, remembering the work of Dr. King and others who continue to fight to overcome discrimination is part of their DNA.
If only Euro-Americans in progressive Baptist churches were as committed to the cause of ending ministerial discrimination against women! Baptist Women in Ministry promotes Martha Stearns Marshall Month in February, asking churches to invite a woman to preach one Sunday in recognition of those women who are called to ministry and affirming a particular woman minister. Too often when this is suggested to the pastor, the worship committee, or the denominational relations committee, the response is, “Why?” Many do not see this as a significant concern. If a church already has a woman as pastor, I can understand the indifference, but when a church rarely or never invites a woman to preach, they are communicating that this is not a priority to them.
Here is the difference between many progressive Baptists and their African-American brothers and sisters—they do not see the equality of all people before God as a theological issue. The God who calls people of all races and colors also calls both women and men into ministry. This affirmation is at the core of what it means to be the people of God. Until progressive Baptists realize this and make it part of their DNA, they will miss a significant attribute of the Kingdom of God—inclusiveness.