Baptist Women in Ministry (BWIM) came close to packing the house at First Baptist Church of Greensboro Wednesday night, and Nancy Sehested rocked it with a stirring call for women to remember how far they had come since the organization’s birth 30 years ago. “Just 10 more years,” she quipped, “and we’ll get to the Promised Land!”
Sehested, one of the prime movers in beginning the organization, is co-pastor of the Circle of Mercy Congregation and prison chaplain at the Marion Correctional Institution in Asheville, NC. Preaching to an appreciative crowd of at least 1,000 women and men, Sehested drew her remarks from 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 and recalled earlier days when the Southern Baptist Convention passed resolutions discouraging Baptist women from pastoral roles, when “strident” was one of the nicer names BWIM members were called, and when even friends of the movement encouraged leaders to “tone it down.”
The road to wider acceptance of Baptist women in pastoral leadership hasn’t been easy. There is a great temptation to lose heart, to get discouraged, and to think our work is in vain, Sehested said, but “then the Holy Spirit comes again and invites us to the mess and miracle of this ministry.”
“We are not about to call it quits,” she said. Though surrounded by troubles, wounded, and slammed down, she insisted, women endure and get back up.
Like Paul, Sehested said, “We know Jesus – who preached without the authority of the establishment … we dare not lose heart.”
(for a more on the BWIM gathering, see Bob Allen’s report on ABP).