I was recently at a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship event catching up with friends and explaining that I would be leaving Emmanuel. Although I don’t have the what’s next planned out yet, I am pursing full time pastorates. As I explained this, I saw the countenance on a couple of the faces change. I paused sensing there was something I needed to know about to be said.
“That’s great, but unfortunately there are not many churches who are willing to call women to the senior pastor position.”
I smiled and explained I knew it was going to be hard, but that I had found one church that was brave and courageous enough to call a woman, and I was pretty sure there were others out there. The conversation ended with good lucks and good to see you agains.
As I drove back toward Columbia, the conversation resurfaced. I reflected that five years ago, I had heard that there weren’t churches ready to call women pastors from at a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship day at Gardner-Webb when I explained I was called to preach. At that point the comment rocked me because I was new to CBF, but this time my reaction was different.
A lot has changed in church dynamics in five years. In the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of South Carolina alone there are FIVE women currently serving as senior pastors. First Baptist Church on Fifth in Winston Salem, NC recently called a woman senior pastor as did Lakeshore Baptist Church in Waco, TX. Historic churches like Riverside Baptist Church and First Baptist Church Washington DC and National Memorial Baptist Church have women senior pastors.
Baptist Women in Ministry has a series called “This is What a Minister Looks Like” that features women in ministry positions as senior pastors, associate pastors, chaplains, and in a variety of other ministry settings. They won’t run out of material for this blog series anytime soon.
As these thoughts ran through my head, I realized what I should have said in the midst of that conversation was, “But there are women pastors. There are more and more women being called to serve and to live into their calls. Things have changed in the past five years. Things are changing.”
I may be the first woman called to serve a particular church, but I know as I meet more and more women ministers that I won’t be the first woman in to serve in a particular state or region.
What a wonderfully affirming realization!