We were following our usual routine in the Busby household last Friday night.
My husband and I had just managed to corral our children and get them to bed. We sat down together to relax and defragment from a busy week of serving in our individual ministries.
We were enjoying a particularly funny moment in a movie when our phones simultaneously chimed, alerting us to an email from Hardin-Simmons University.
That is when we first learned, along with faculty and students, that Logsdon Seminary would be closed.
We had heard whispers earlier this year that a small minority effort had mobilized against Logsdon.
My husband, Ryan, and I had been part of the many alumni and friends of Logsdon who had written letters to trustees in hopes to convey how vital and unique Logsdon is and how important it is for Hardin-Simmons and Abilene, Texas.
Despite our efforts, this small faction had secured enough votes to close our seminary. Even though we knew this was a possibility, it still was gut wrenching.
We spent the remainder of the night going between sorrow and rage, as one does when grieving the loss of a beloved friend.
Logsdon is particularly special to me, though, not because it educated me or because it is where I met my spouse. Logsdon is where I discovered who God created me to be.
My story is similar to many other Baptist women in ministry. I was called to ministry as a teen in a Southern Baptist church that did not affirm women serving in ministry.
When I shared my feelings of being called with my Bible study leader, I was told without hesitation I was wrong and did not hear God correctly because God does not call women to vocational ministry.
It was suggested to me that I might be called to be a pastor’s wife or serve as a missionary, but those were the only options.
This rejection caused years of insecurity and doubt of whether I had the ability to clearly hear from God.
When I found my way to Logsdon, I was uncertain if I would ever truly be a minister.
I had never been mentored in my calling and was confused about what it would look like for me to minister and lead.
In my entrance interview with Dr. Bob Ellis, Logsdon’s dean, I couldn’t even express to him where in ministry I felt called.
I didn’t know and had barely worked up the courage to pursue a seminary degree in general.
He simply smiled his warm, comforting smile and stated, “Don’t worry. We will help you discern this calling whatever it ends up looking like.”
I wasn’t the only woman to find instant affirmation in her Logsdon interview. Many similar stories abound from Logsdon’s female students.
My friend, Rev. Brittany McDonald-Null, shared at a Baptist Women in Ministry conference that, during her interview with Dr. Ken Lyle Jr., then director of the master of divinity program and professor of New Testament and Greek, she stated, “I think I want to be a youth minister.”
Lyle’s response was, “Well, we will certainly support you in being a youth minister, and if you want to be a pastor, we support you in that too.”
Many women pursuing ministry had never been affirmed in our calling until we found Logsdon.
It became a place of healing for me. I had old wounds from rejection and bitterness toward the lack of affirmation from the local church. Logsdon provided the space for healing to begin.
Coming from such a rigid religious background, I found comfort in the broad way in which Logsdon taught me theology.
I was introduced to the diversity within Christian history and thought and was given the confidence to trust myself and the Spirit to discern what I believed.
The faculty at Logsdon refused to feed me the answers; instead, they empowered me to think for myself.
Above all, the faculty at Logsdon never made me feel like I had something to prove because they already believed in me.
Words cannot express what it means for a Baptist woman to say they are called to ministry and have that be accepted without suspicion, or to be able to express a theological opinion without being dismissed or patronized.
Logsdon Seminary is a place where women called to ministry can thrive.
Seminaries like Logsdon are crucial for Texas and God’s kingdom. Since its inception, Logsdon has served as a spiritual oasis for women and men seeking to faithfully follow God.
For women seeking to serve God in vocational ministry, the options for religious education are already limited.
With the closure of Logsdon and the recent loss of Baptist Theological Seminary of Richmond, Virginia, the uphill climb for Baptist women just became steeper.
To diminish the affirming voice that Logsdon brings to Baptist women means it will be that much harder for our future daughters to find support and community on an already difficult road.
When women lose the opportunity to find their voices in Baptist life, the church suffers.
Without a doubt, institutions like Logsdon are deeply needed. We need more options for women ministers to flourish, not fewer.
The loss of Logsdon is not just a tremendous loss to Texas, but to the historic Baptist witness as a whole.
Editor’s note: This article is part of a series focused on engaging the emerging generations of faith leaders. Learn more about EthicsDaily.com’s “Emerging Voices” and “U:21” series here.
Bethany Busby is an ordained minister who serves as a chaplain for Baylor Scott and White Hospice in Temple, Texas. She graduated from Logsdon Seminary in 2016 with a Master of Divinity.