Dear Baptist Soon-to-be Women,
Dear Hope of a Women in Ministry Advocate,
Dear Daughters of the Church,
I write to you because you are who I think about. You are in my thoughts when I talk to female colleagues. You are in my thoughts when I have conversations about a woman’s proper place. You are in my thoughts when I am sitting in class, representing you. You are in my thoughts when I urge my coworkers to be mindful of gender pronouns. You are in my thoughts when I plan the next steps of Baptist Women in Ministry-Missouri. You are in my thoughts when I am in tears mourning the lack of opportunities for gifted women of God.
You are in my thoughts because I hope and pray that your journey is easier than mine. I hope that your gifts are being encouraged, that people refer to you as “the future pastor.” I hope that no matter the gender of your pastor (though at this point, I have to assume male) that you have seen women in the pulpit, preaching and ministering and delivering the word of God. I hope that you know ministry is an option for you. I hope that you have church leaders who see your giftedness and give you opportunity to develop it.
I hope that you are in class with others who look like you – and, of course, those who don’t. I hope that being a pastor can be a “back-up” option for you if you decide the academic life isn’t what you want.
I hope that it is assumed that you are what a preacher looks like. That you are seen as a valuable resource from the moment you step into the room. That you have a prominent role in local clergy groups.
I hope that you are addressed as Preacher and Minister and Proclaimer instead of speaker. I hope your classmates give you nicknames like “Rev” or “Doc” and ask for your insight on their projects. I hope that you can serve in the tradition of your choice and not have to think about whether your calling or denominational preference come first.
I hope Baptist Women in Ministry will be a group of women who enjoy hanging out and brainstorming together instead of a group advocating for a place at the table. I hope that your daughters wear heels and play church, preaching and serving communion and blessing the world.
I hope your voice is always compassionate and full of authority. I hope your voice speaks truth to power and seeks justice for all of God’s people.
And I hope that whatever you are called to be, that you see a way there. I hope that you don’t have to spend nights in tears wondering if there is a place for you.
I hope for you. I think of you. You are my prayer.
Read more from Jennifer at her blog.