Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Shepastor Highlights the “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” Conference, August 26-27th, 2011

This past weekend, August 26-27th, a diverse host of clergywomen from the Midwest and East Coast gathered in Beachwood, Ohio to attend the “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” Conference, sponsored by Women Together in Ministry of Greater Cleveland (WTIM). What an, anointed, refreshing, enlightening, strengthening, challenging, empowering and encouraging time we had together!

WTIM thanks everyone who helped to make this conference a reality! We thank everyone who came out to support this women in ministry gathering! The Lord granted us divine favor and smiled upon this our first ever event! As promised, over the next several Wednesday, Shepastor will highlight various aspects of the conference. Today, we will share excerpts from the first day of the conference, Friday – August 26th, 2011.

Read on and be blessed…

Shepastor Highlights the “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” Conference, August 26-27th, 2011

While enjoying a scrumptious mixed greens salad with Champaign vinaigrette and chicken picotta or baked salmon meal, we were blessed with the melodious music ministry of our Worship Leader, Sister Joyce Lake of American Baptist Women In Ministry; Valley Forge, PA. After dinner we gathered for evening worship. We received special greetings from the Honorable Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (Representative of the 11th Congressional District, Ohio) who reminded us that on August 26th, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution went into effect, giving women the right to vote! She congratulated the conference for its multi-leveled diversity – racial, geographical and age wise. She applauded the vision of women coming together to empower and encourage one another.

WTIM was also honored by the Honorable Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s (Cleveland, Ohio) Office with a proclamation, expressing congratulations! The Cleveland Baptist Association Executive Minister, The Reverend Dr. Leonard Thompson proclaimed that we could drop the “Em” and the “En” and simply say, “Power” and “Courage” is what it takes to join together to address great needs and to do great things such as the many and varied great works of women in ministry.

Following several greetings, we were electrified by the praise dance ministry of two beautiful senior women (one of which is a WTIM Board Member, The Reverend Itherine Spencer) of the “Virtuous Liturgical Dancers” as they danced to Vicki Yohe’s rendition of “Lord I Worship You Because of Who You Are.” Those Sisters had us up on our feet!

Next, the Imani United Church of Christ choir rocked the house with the song “Sold Out” with lyrics declaring – “My heart is fixed, my mind made up – no room no vacancies I’m all filled up – His Spirit lives in me and that’s the reason I’m sold out!” Imani Senior Pastor, The Reverend Michele Humphrey lit our hearts a fire with her powerful message, “Go and Tell…” Taken from the story of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with Jesus when he instructed her to go and tell the disciples that He is risen.

Pastor Humphrey challenged the misinterpretations of Paul’s writings to Timothy that women are to keep silent in the church. “Do we listen to the dictate to keep silent or do we obey Jesus and go and tell?” She also emphasized the importance of women standing “together” in ministry instead of allowing competition, jealousy, envy and other issues to separate us. Sharing her own experiences as a woman pastor, she spoke about the importance of understanding “who” has called you to “go and tell.”

Now pastoring a church of several thousand, Pastor Humphrey let us know that it didn’t start out that way – half of the congregation initially left, not wanting to be led by a female, efforts to undermine her authority abounded, being addressed disrespectfully – being called, “sweet heart” and “Michele” the road has not been easy! But the same Lord who called her to ‘Go and Tell” has kept her and causes her to triumph over every adversity!

Finally, she shared the story of an experience by the late Rev. Dr. Prathia Hall Wynn, who, decades earlier in the midst of a Baptist gathering filled with male preachers who were asked to stand debated within herself how to respond – to sit because the “men” preachers were asked to stand – and she certainly was not a man or to stand because she was a preacher…

"I stood in the authenticity of my being Black, preacher, Baptist, woman. For the same God who made me a preacher made me a woman, and I convinced that God was not confused on either count."
The late Rev. Dr. Prathia Hall-Wynn

What a time we had in fellowship! How blessed we were to come together to worship, praise, sing, shout, dance and rejoice in the God who made us both women and preachers!

Our next segment will share highlights from Saturday’s plenary session, panel discussion and workshops. Post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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