Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Shepastor: “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry: Workshops that brought balance, enlightenment and healing to our souls!”

Wisdom and money can get you almost anything, but only wisdom can save your life. Ecclesiastes 7:12 NLT
What life saving words we received during the 2012 “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry Conference!” Over the past several weeks we’ve highlighted the sermons, the plenary and the panel. Today, Shepastor highlights the ministry workshops offered.
Conferees were given an opportunity to receive practical information concerning financial institutions and funding options, merchant services, guidance on increasing the odds of receiving grants and tips on starting a 501c3 through the KeyBank Financial Education and Economic Empowerment Workshops.
Additional workshop descriptions are provided below…
#1 “We don't know how she does it!" - Doing God's Work and Marriage”
Presenter: The Reverend Dr. Stephanie Allen, Associate Pastor for Adult Education, Small Groups, Fellowship Group, Covenant Groups and Outreach, First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland
A workshop for married female clergy
In a world where it seems like women can have it all and do it all female clergy have a rather large task of doing God's work while fighting the temptation to live up to the world's standards. What does God expect of us as married, female clergy? What does His word tell us about taking care of ourselves, friendships, relationships and what do we do when "having it all" is way too much on our plate? This workshop will navigate, discuss and highlight some of those issues and guide us through discovering healthy alternatives to the world’s standards of working women.
Those in attendance for Dr. Allen’s class raved about her ability to unpack the meaning of scriptures, reflecting upon the original Hebrew language to help them claim God’s promises and develop healthy views towards fulfilling roles and responsibilities.
#2 “Dating, Sexuality, Romantic Love…and the Single Clergywoman?”
Presenter: The Reverend Leah C.K. Lewis, J.D., Associate Minister, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church and Assistant to the Pastor for Community Engagement. Leader, Singles’ Fellowship of Olivet, a ministry actively engaged in the life of the church with book discussions, community outreach and social activities.
A workshop for single female clergy
A frank instruction accompanied by an earnest and edifying conversation on the topic.
Conferees greatly appreciated Rev. Lewis’ “frank” discussion concerning the realities of being single and clergy. They shared that they felt free to speak openly and candidly about the struggles of being single, living holy and fulfilled.
#3 H.A.L.T.: Take Care of Yourself!
Presenter: Dr. Julie Exline, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology/licensed clinical psychologist, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio
This session will focus on the importance of self-care for women in ministry. To focus our conversation, we will make use of this time-honored guidance: “Don’t let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired,” or HALT. The session will draw from Scripture and the field of psychology to help participants reflect on the vital role of self-care in ministry and personal life.
Class participants were empowered to “HALT,” reflect upon their own unhealthy, unbalanced ways and consider better choices for fulfillment in life. Dr. Exline was “excellent!” (shared one class participant) in her calm and effective way of ushering women into a place of peaceful contemplation and decisions for healthier responses to life circumstances.
We praise God for ALL of the wonderful, powerful, enlightening, inspiring, educational and challenging messages provided to us through all of our conference leaders! May the messages given speak to our hearts for many days to come and instruct our lives for healthier, balanced and empowered living!
Post a comment or send me an email at
Until next Wednesday In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Shepastor: WTIM 2012 Conference Panel Discussion: Continuing the Conversation: “Women in Ministry Identifying and Breaking Dysfunctional Relationship Patterns ”

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7 KJV
With wisdom, clarity, experience, compassion and resolve, our panelists, Rev. Peter Faass, Rector of Christ Episcopal Church, Shaker Heights, Ohio; Rev. Barbara J. Essex, Author, Bad Girls of the Bible, and Dr. Thomas Gilmore, Senior Pastor, Fidelity Baptist Church; Cleveland, Ohio reflected upon questions related to women in ministry breaking dysfunctional relationship patterns.
Earlier that morning, conferees had an opportunity to consider how they related to the dysfunctional behaviors found in the story of Sarai and Hagar (see last week’s Shepastor, highlighting the Plenary session, “Woman to Woman, Breaking the Cycles of Dysfunction in our Relationships,” led by Rev. Marie Onwubuariri). The Panelists were asked to respond to the following questions:
- Have you observed behavior patterns unique to women’s relationships? If so, talk about both healthy and unhealthy patterns you’ve observed
- Identify some things that play a role in how women relate to one another
- How might “the ministry” play a role in creating healthy or dysfunctional patterns of behavior? (specifically, how women relate to one another as well as to men)
- What things may hinder women from recognizing harmful behavior patterns, both personally and in relationships?
- What can mentors and leaders (male and female) do to assist women in identifying and breaking dysfunctional patterns of behavior?
Healthy patterns observed included women’s ability to communicate, support and share with one another, despite the “dog eat dog” behaviors observed at times in male counterparts (in leadership positions). Women have a tendency to take “meager fare” and use it to create something awesome and beautiful. For example, female pastors often use their many gifts and talents to assist small, fragmented congregations to be all that they can be.
Unhealthy patterns were observed as well. Unfortunate experiences in the past have caused some female clergy to become bitter, seeing men through a single lens of chauvinism and oppression. The admonition, “all men are not against women preachers,” was lifted up. A well known issue was raised and discussed – the limited amount of senior pastorates available to women can create a “crab in the bucket” mentality if we are not careful. One of our panelists, Minister Carol Shannon also brought to light the discrimination that exists against individuals with disabilities as relates to ministry opportunities. We must look beyond what is readily apparent, suspend judgment and be open to receiving the blessings that the Lord has for us through which ever vessel He chooses.
Suggestions to improve our relationships as well as identifying unhealthy patterns of behavior within ourselves included making the decision to “search ourselves,” before blaming others (what role have I played in the relationship problem?), choose to rise above attitudes and behaviors that are negative, divisive and or corrosive and instead, model healthy, responsible, compassionate and thoughtful behaviors. Through prayer and persistence, your example will break the cycle and begin a new healthier pattern!
It was suggested that mentors can make a difference for women in ministry by being available (answer phone calls, respond to emails, offer to take a woman in ministry out once a month or every other month to give her an opportunity to share, raise questions, vent, get advice, etc.). As opportunities arise, mentors can assist in opening doors for women in ministry – recommend women for ministry positions, give them opportunities to share their gifts and talents through preaching, teaching, providing workshops etc. Mentors can provide a safe place for women in ministry to learn and grow.
We praise God for the blessings given to us through the open and candid discussions we shared, the issues discussed and the recommendations made through our panelists!
Our final segment from the 2012 “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” Conference will be shared next week as we reflect upon our workshops offered. . Post a comment or send me an email at
Until Next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Shepastor: – WTIM 2012 Conference Plenary Session: “Woman to Woman: Breaking the Cycles of Dysfunction in Our Relationships”

Abram replied, "Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit." Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away. Genesis 16:6 NLT
Pause, reflect and think about that! Plenary Speaker, Rev. Marie Onwubuariri, Director of Admissions, American Baptist Seminary of the West, led us down through the ages of antiquity to the ancient house hold of Abram, Sarai and Hagar. Rev. Marie asked us to listen to that familiar passage of scripture three times. After each reading, she asked us to consider which woman we identified with the most – Sarai or Hagar.
Afterwards, we were asked to think about why we identified with the woman we selected. In a powerful, soul-searching, revealing session, women shared with one another and then the entire group how they may have thought of themselves more closely related to one, but after listening to the passage three separate times, could actually see themselves in the other. Women who originally readily identified with Hagar, began to see how they possessed some of the same struggles, insecurities, jealousies and doubts as Sarai. Women who originally identified with Sarai, began to see how they have also experienced looking with contempt upon another for various reasons.
Rev. Marie’s powerful and thought provoking message encouraged us to grapple with the following:
- Learn the “platinum rule”: Do unto others as they would have you do unto them. Instead of treating people the way you would like to be treated, strive to treat people the way that they desire to be treated. What works for you may not be the best for them
- Recognize when something is not quite right within yourself: Sometimes we are actually projecting how we feel onto others and assigning those feelings arbitrarily to them
- Learn how to suspend judgment: Be sensitive to the other person’s situation and the factors that may be contributing to their behaviors
- Spend time reflecting upon your own feelings: Be aware of what you bring to the situation
- Walk in God’s Grace: Don’t be too hard on yourself or others! Spend time understanding why you operate the way that you do and how that relates to the way you relate to others
- Be aware of power dynamics in mentor/mentee relationships: Understand the role you play in relationships and the unspoken dynamics attached to the role.
What an awesome time of reflection, introspection, conviction and enlightenment Rev. Marie led us through! Next week, we will reflect upon the Panel’s responses to the plenary session and their insights regarding, “Women in Ministry Identifying and Breaking Dysfunctional Relationship Patterns ”
You can view the 2012 “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” Conference photo album by visiting the WTIM website home page,
Post a comment or send me an email at
Until next Wednesday, In faith, hope and perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Shepastor: “Those Preachin Women at the 2012 Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry Conference: Pastor Tonya Fields, Pastor Diana L. Swoope, and Pastor Marilyn Parker Jeffries!”

"...How shall they hear without a preacher?" Romans 10:14, KJV
What an awesome, anointed, power-packed three days the participants at the “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” Conference experienced as God used three gifted, ministering agents for His glory!
At the Pre-Conference, Pastor Tonya Fields, Senior Pastor of New Freedom Ministries, Cleveland, Ohio poured out of her soul, admonishing the women of God to encourage, love and support one another. Preaching from Philippians 4, focusing on the challenges between two Christian sisters, Euodia and Syntyche, who knew the Lord, but bumped up against differences between each other, Pastor Fields drew comparisons between them and us. She emphasized that these two women needed the Fellowship to help them to work through their issues. She reminded us, “you can’t do it on your own – we need each other!” After her heartfelt, moving and convicting message, she called the congregation to the altar and anointed us all – how the Holy Spirit moved in that place! What healing, what deliverance, what enlightenment happened around the altar that night!
Pastor Diana L. Swoope, Senior Pastor of Arlington Street Church of God, Akron, Ohio rocked the house as she preached from Acts, 2: 14-17; “Living in the Spirit Zone.” Pastor Swoope likened the Christian walk to the Athletes who strive to get in “the zone,” where they operate in such a dynamic, victorious way that they become unstoppable by their challengers. She challenged us to know and understand our call to the ministry, to have a commitment to mastery and excellence and to gain a comprehension of the momentum. If you want to live in the “zone,” and be victorious and unstoppable by the opposition, you better know your calling, commit to excellence and take hold of the momentum when it comes! Don’t let the momentum pass you by!
Pastor Marilyn Parker-Jeffries, Senior Pastor of New Creation Baptist Church, Lorain, Ohio set us on fire as she preached from Luke 15: 8-10; “Lost in the House.” She captured our hearts, minds and spirits as she expounded upon the tragedy of losing something precious right in the house, right in the midst, right in the church! People can be right before us, right around us, right in the midst and yet be lost. Many things, many opportunities, many hopes, many dreams can be lost, right in the house! But God is able to find and restore that which was lost, but some sweepin has to go on! Many things will seek to prevent you from sweeping your house, from seeking and finding what was lost, but we must stand on the word that the “Spirit of the Lord is upon me,” that God’s Spirit has anointed us, has appointed us, has given us a work to do and we cannot allow anyone or anything to stop us from reclaiming what has been lost!
What a time, what a time, what a time! We praise God for those “preachin women!” Next week well share about the plenary session, panel discussion and workshops.
You can view the "Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry 2012" Photo Album by visiting
Post a comment or send me an email at Until next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris