“We are 500 years passed the Reformation,” says Rev. Alyssa A. Aldape, “and it is about time we highlight the good and faithful work of women who have graciously, and at times quietly, served as pastors in congregations, communities and hospitals.”
This work of Baptist women is now getting the documentary treatment.
Baptist Women in Ministry and EthicsDaily.com announced a partnership on June 13 that will yield a new video series focused on female Baptist ministers. The two organizations will jointly produce the short-documentary series, which will be distributed freely online.
Aldape, associate pastor for young adult and youth ministries at The First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, D.C., says, “This joint venture between Baptist Women in Ministry and EthicsDaily.com comes at a time when the stories of women in ministry are important to the bigger Christian narrative.”
The first film will feature Rev. Mary Alice Birdwhistell, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, Texas.
Daniel Glaze, pastor of River Road Church in Richmond, Virginia, and a member of the BWIM Leadership Team, says, “At a time when so many church folks are fretting over the future of pastoral leadership, there are so many women – capable, gifted and called by God – who are eager to serve the church. I trust that when we hear their stories, we will know they are ready to lead us. And we will call them to do so.”
On-location production on the first installment, featuring Birdwhistell, is set to begin later this summer in Waco.
Birdwhistell served communion at the BWIM annual gathering, when the parternship was announced, at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas. The gathering took place amid the backdrop of Dallas conventions of both Cooperative Baptists and Southern Baptists.
“It is a timely partnership amidst the current #MeToo movement, blatant racism and sexism,” says Aldape. “Women need these stories to feel empowered and know they are not alone.”
They also need these stories to fire the imagination of younger women and churches, says Meredith Stone, assistant professor of Christian ministry and Scripture at Logsdon School of Theology at Hardin-Simmons University.
“One’s imagination is often limited to and constructed by what they have seen,” says Stone, who is also director of ministry guidance. “For women called to ministry, this often means they can only imagine the fulfillment of their calling through what they have seen other women live out. For churches figuring out how to be fully inclusive of women in leadership, this often means they can only imagine what they have seen other sister churches do. By expanding Baptists’ ability to see more stories of women in ministry, this significant joint initiative of EthicsDaily.com and Baptist Women in Ministry will broaden the imaginations of both women and churches, and thus will open new doors of possibility.”
One of Birdwhistell’s congregants in Waco is Doug Weaver, professor of religion and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Religion at Baylor University.
“Progressive or moderate Baptists need to move beyond cracking the glass ceiling regarding women in pastoral ministry to shattering it,” says Weaver. “The upcoming video series produced by EthicsDaily.com and Baptist Women in Ministry will contribute significantly to the much needed egalitarian effort. This is what a preacher looks like and this is what Baptist cooperation looks like.”
Each installment is projected to be roughly 10 to 12 minutes.
“I am excited,” says Stone, “to see how the Spirit might move in Baptist life through such an important project.”
Donations by check, with the same project designation included, can be mailed to EthicsDaily.com or BWIM:
EthicsDaily.com (make checks payable to Baptist Center for Ethics)
P.O. Box 150506
Nashville, TN 37215-0506
Baptist Women in Ministry
P.O. Box 941294
Atlanta, GA 31141-1294