Rev. Dr. Suzanne Kershaw is Associate Minister for Grace Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pa.’s Germantown Section. She leads the congregation in liturgy, preaching and teaching.
I’m an American Baptist because I have the freedom to worship as I believe and to live out my faith in a manner that honors God as I try to be “the hands and feet of Christ.” I value the privilege of serving God and His world.
My faith journey began in the Chapel of the Ascension, an Episcopalian church located in West Chester, Pa., participating in Sunday School, corporate church worship and the choir. After completion of Catechism classes, I received my first Communion at the age of 12.
My first church experience took place, I believe, when I first opened my eyes. When I was a child my mother had us at every Vacation Bible School that took place in West Chester. It didn’t matter if it at a Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Mennonite or any other denomination. If they were teaching about Jesus, we were there in attendance.
The biggest challenge for the church today is for the body of Christ to understand Jesus’ earthly ministries and how we must humble ourselves and truly love one another. These expressions of love must be for the whole of humankind, and therefore compel us to lift our voices regarding social justice, human and sex trafficking, domestic violence and many issues that are in our homes, communities of faith, neighborhoods, our nation and the global community.
I pray for myself that I will be the person that God has called me to be whether a mother, friend or leader. I pray for discernment as I am seeking God’s guidance and direction regarding the next step in my life’s journey. I pray for my family, especially for my sons because of the necessity of saying and believing that “Black Lives Matter.” I pray for my church as we journey through this season of “Transition and Mourning”. I pray for those in leadership in my church and in regional and national levels. I pray for those who lead our country at the local, state and national levels. I pray for people that God places on my heart whether I am driving by the person or hear or see something in the news.
I struggle the most with making self-love, self-care and introspection a sacred part of my life.
I am most passionate about ministry to women. The question, “Who is caring for the souls of the women in the church?” has long been important to me. One day God placed in my heart a desire to be that voice to care for women in the church. How to strengthen and revive the American Baptist Women’s Ministries of the Philadelphia Baptist Association involves much more than what happens inside the doors of a church. It is about what happens in the lives of these women, women of the community, every day. We want to examine how women discover faith, how they embrace faith and how they live out their faith.
Ten years from now the church will be more engaged with the community and the world around it.
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