Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Shepastor: “American Baptist Women in Ministry Breaking Through “Stained Glass Ceilings…”

34Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37For with God nothing shall be impossible. 38And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. Luke 1: 34-38, KJV

Following are excepts from Chapter 1 of Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling: Equipping and Encouraging Female Pastors… (Christine A. Smith, Judson Press, 2013)

Whom Shall We Send?
And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38, KJV)

As we explore the question, “Whom shall we send?” the example of Mary, the mother of Jesus, can provide great insight. Poor, young, unwed, and ordinary, Mary would not have been on the short list of most people to become the mother of the Messiah. Yet the Lord chose her. Readers of the text are left to speculate why the Lord chose Mary. We are given only the angel’s words that she was “highly favored” and that the Lord was with her (Luke 1:28). Later, Mary expresses her own beliefs and words of praise regarding why she was chosen (Luke 1:46-55, KJV)…

Clearly, Mary believed that God regarded her “low estate” and did “great things” to her. Mary praised God for exalting her and using her as an anointed vessel. Mary was chosen by God and sent forward to carry the Word that became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. Understandably, upon receiving the message that God had chosen her, Mary had a question: “How can this be?” The angel provided a supernatural response to a natural question: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35, KJV).

As women have heard and grappled with God’s call upon their lives, many, like Mary, have asked, “How can this be?” Women are not supposed to preach and pastor. How can this be? I don’t know any man who would license or ordain me. How can this be? I don’t know what steps to take next. How can this be? I don’t even know how to begin to explain what I am feeling. I don’t have a lot, my name is not prominent, frequently I am overlooked, I’m not in the in-crowd, I’m not popular, people have even shunned me. Lord, how can this be?

At the appointed time, God sends angels to declare, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you.” God has many Marys to send. Will we recognize them? God’s sending process is different from ours. Often we look for the best, the brightest, the most beautiful, the most popular, and that which is highly esteemed among people. God, however, uses a different barometer. God discerns the heart. The questions are, Will our hearts be open to the heart of God as God seeks to use us in the sending process? Will we allow ourselves to be the angels to help to clarify the call, provide reassurance, tell them that they are “highly favored” and held by God, and then send them forth to carry the gospel? We must believe that we are the angels—the women and men who affirm that God calls and chooses whomever God wills. Whom shall we send? We should send those who express and exhibit a willingness to say, like Mary, “be it unto me according to thy word.”
Today, Shepastor celebrates the many “Mary’s” that God is using to carry the Gospel, breaking through barriers…accepting and walking in their calling… Below is the latest WONDERFUL eblast sent out from the American Baptist Women in Ministry office, Rev. Patricia Hernandez, Executive Director, Ms. Joyce Lake, Administrative Assistant… Read on and enjoy…

(ABWIM Newsletter…)

I’ve recently returned from meetings with the UN Commission on the Status of Women. 2000 people coming from over 200 countries around the world gathering to reflect on and respond to issues relating to gender justice. On the first morning of worship as I walked into the Chapel I was struck by a large wooden door, a door that stood framed in the middle of the worship area.
A door that stood open.
An invitation to all who came, facing whatever kind of barrier.
A proclamation that here everyone was welcome and all were included.

Following remarks by the Rev. Dionne Boissiere, Chaplain of the Church Center for the United Nations, a woman shared how she had experienced a call to ministry many years ago but her pastor had told her ‘No!’ Now she was rejoicing in the call and still struggling to find a way to live hers out. “I’m glad I lived long enough to see you, a female pastor lead us in worship!”

There are barriers. The barriers are real.
We at ABWIM are committed to
breaking barriers that bar the utilization of gifts,
building bridges to advance opportunities
bringing people together to be the body of Christ in which all God’s gifts poured out on all God’s people can be fully used for the good of all and the glory of God.

This is not done in a day. Or a week. Or a month.
This is a movement. Although the theme for our movement is “March On,” This isn’t just about March.
And It isn’t just about Marching.
It is about becoming the body of Christ where all God’s gifts given to all God’s people can be fully utilized and fully lived out.
If you would like to be part of this movement whether in March, or April, or May or June, consider giving a gift. When you donate, you may do so in honor of or in memory of someone who has played a meaningful role in your ministry. Their name—as well as yours—will be noted on our donor page. To donate, go to:

Breaking Barriers

Dear Pastor,
God has provided the Church with marvelous gifts and talents to be used for the up building of God’s Kingdom here on earth. However, due to barriers spoken and unspoken, the Church is missing out on many opportunities to be blessed – particularly when it comes to pastoral leadership! The Women in Ministry Action Learning Team (WIM ALT), an ABC/USA Ministers Council/ “Transformed by the Spirit” initiative is exploring adaptive challenges that may prevent churches from calling the most qualified candidates, regardless of gender (male or female) to serve as senior/solo pastors in American Baptist Churches. Statistics reveal that churches with pastors who acquaint their congregations with female clergy in positive and specific ways are more open to receive God’s best for them, whether male or female upon the supporting pastor’s retirement. If you are an American Baptist Senior/Solo pastor who may retire in the next 3-5 years, we ask that you complete the following survey, designed to help us identify pastors that are willing to use specific strategies to break down barriers that may hinder a congregation from considering and calling the best possible candidate irrespective of gender. Thank you in advance for your assistance!
WIM ALT Retiring Pastors Survey link:

Building Bridges

Crossing Bridges!

Also along the lines of building bridges—or perhaps crossing bridges(!)—is an event in which we are partnering with American Baptist Women’s Ministries.

AB Women have a long history of having been supportive of women in professional church leadership roles. Some of those ways:
• It was ABW who first asked the whole denomination to study the role of women in the church.
• It was ABW who called a conference in 1968(!) “Women in Church-Related Vocations” at which a report was presented on the number of women on national staff with the intention of increasing those numbers.

• It was ABW along with the Division of Social concerns which was instrumental in the formation of the group “Executive Staff Women,” which became an advocacy group for the full inclusion of women in all of ministry.
In recognition and celebration of this history of advocacy ABWIM is partnering with AB Women’s Ministries in offering a conference-cruise, Sept. 19 – 22. 2014. The Rev. Dr. Debora Jackson, Executive Director of Ministers Council will be one of the Keynote Speakers. Rev. Valerie Andrews, Church Business Manager at The Church of the Redeemer Baptist, is the Conference Coordinator. Both are amazing and gifted Women in Ministry. Moreover, our own Joyce Lake, gifted musician, will be the Performing Artist.

This is an event not to be missed! Come with sisters and colleagues from Women in Ministry and/or AB Women’s Ministries’!

For more information and to register, go to:
Becoming the body of Christ: Responding to God’s call…

If you are sensing a call to ministry or know someone who thinks God might be calling them into pastoral ministry or missionary service, tell them about the “Hear the Call” retreat happening prior to the World Mission Conference at Green Lake this summer, July 19 -21. Featured speakers include Rev. Dr. Marvin McMickle and former missionary Rev. Debbie Kelsey.

Attendees enter a discernment process through one of three tracks:
1) Pastoral Ministry (sponsored by the Ministers Council)
2) Global Mission Service (sponsored by IM)
3) Local mission involvement (sponsored ABHMS)

Participants can ask questions, banish misconceptions and leave with next steps as they explore how God is calling them. For more information or to register:

God Calls + Women Answer = Women’s Leadership Initiative @ Nashville

“I want to find the ten best women and provide them a fully scholarshipped theological education through our create program @ Nashville.” President Molly T. Marshall

President Marshall has issued a summons to action for empowering women as leaders. The “stained-glass ceiling” still exists. She is calling for radical transformation of the horizon for women called to leadership in ministry. Studies of leadership confirm that women have significant capacities to transform institutions when at the helm. To that end, President Marshall is extending an invitation “to recommend the best young women (aged 22-34) in your sphere of influence to become a member of the fall 2014 create cohort at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Tennessee.”

Please contact President Marshall with your recommendations. Central wants to build a remarkable cohort of women for this new horizon in theological education. Candidates for this highly selective Master of Divinity program will receive a full tuition scholarship, a global immersion experience in Myanmar, and personal coaching from women leaders who have pierced the ceiling. For more information about the create program, click on:

The First Baptist Church of White Plains is conducting a nationwide search for its next senior pastor. If you feel called to serve a unique, multi-cultural congregation, poised to move into the future, go to and click on information for pastoral candidates. The deadline for application and material to be submitted is April 15.

Update: Rev. Dr. Veronica Lanier – “Ronny”
Ronny also welcomes calls at 781 662-4663. To all she exclaims, “Be of Good Cheer!” And to this great witness of a woman, we send it right back to her! She is pictured here with one of our ABWIM brochures, a brochure which features not only her picture but the pictures of many amazing women witnesses. Join me in offering a prayer for Ronny and other women leaders of our faith:

Gracious God, we come before you on behalf of Ronny Lanier and so many other witnesses and wise women of our faith (lift up the names of women important in your faith journey). We thank you for the gifts they have been given and the gifts they have shared, gifts which have opened a pathway for our ministry and the ministry of so many others. Embolden our faith community that we may continue to be witnesses and may open the door for others. May we serve as your hands and feet as we share your gifts with the world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

At the end of worship on that first day at the Commission on the Status of Women meetings, many people from many nations came together in one place with one voice to sing “We are marching in the light of God, we are marching in the light of God (Siyahamba/Caminando).

We are.

Join us in becoming the full body of Christ!
Let us continue to celebrate the advances the Lord has blessed women in ministry to make, while we also continue to “break through” glass ceilings!

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

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