Baptist Women in Ministry met for worship and released a new “State of Women in Baptist Life” update during activities at the First Baptist Church on Fifth in Winston-Salem June 22.
Executive director Pam Durso previewed the report, the first since 2010. It included churches affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), the Baptist General Convention of Texas BGCT), the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV), and the District of Columbia Baptist Convention (DCBC).
Durso noted that the number of women serving as pastors and co-pastors increased from 102 in 2005 to 174 in 2015 – a 70.6 percent increase, though still a small percentage of the total. Virginia (39), Texas (28), and North Carolina (21) had the most women pastors. Georgia and Maryland had 11 each in 2015.
Almost 31 percent of Alliance churches have women pastors or co-pastors, far more than CBF (5 percent), the BGAV (1.9 percent), or the BGCT (0.43 percent).
The percentage of women students at seminaries and divinity schools affiliated with CBF increased form 40.4 percent in 2010 to 44.5 percent in 2015 – significantly higher than the 33 percent of women students in schools accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).
North Carolina Baptists ordained the most women (57) between 2011 and 2015, followed by Georgia (52), Virginia (35), and Texas (24). Overall, 232 women were ordained during that period in the churches surveyed, 58 of them in 2015.
Emily Hull McGee, pastor of the host church, spoke of how God created the world out of a “hot mess” of fragmented chaos, and noted ways in which our culture and churches have also become fragmented. “What to do with that fragmentation?” she asked. Lamentation and prayer have their place, she said, but believers should take a cue from God, who took fragments of the primeval chaos and constructed a beautiful world and a people to live in it. “Of course we are not God,” she said, “our fragments are painful,” and “sometimes it feels as if we are just limping along.”
“But,” McGee added, “if we could just catch a spark of God’s creative courage … and put feet to our fragments,” we could explore new options, “have hard conversations within our fellowship,” and hopefully create something “more beautiful than ever.”
BWIM awarded its Addie Davis Award for Outstanding Leadership in Pastoral Ministry to Margaret Brooks, a student at the Baptist Seminary in Kentucky who is focusing on pastoral counseling. The Addie Davis Award for Preaching went to Elizabeth Coates, a recent graduate of Mercer’s McAfee School of Theology.
Hayes Barton Baptist Church in Raleigh was honored as the 2016 “Baptist Women in Ministry Church of Excellence” in recognition of its longstanding support for women in church leadership (ordaining women deacons since the 1970s) and in ordaining women to serve in ministry positions.
Ka’thy Gore Chappell, who serves as leadership development coordinator for CBF-North Carolina, was recognized with the Frankie Huff Granger Distinguished Mentor Award. She has served for 40 years in various roles as a minister of youth in Asheville and Cary, NC, associate pastor for college students at Forest Hills Baptist in Raleigh, and associate dean of students at Baptist Seminary of Richmond before coming to CBFNC in 2011.
Julie Long and Tonya Vickery were honored as they rotated off the BWIM leadership team. Scott Claybrook, Starlette McNeil, and Deborah Reeves are new members of the leadership team.