More than 200 men and women recently gathered at the ninth Baptist International Conference on Theological Education. (BICTE) conference, Reimaging, Rereading HERstory in the Church, hosted by the Baptist World Alliance (BWA). Pastors, scholars, and ministerial leaders from across the Baptist family and all around world gathered to learn from and listen to each other through worship, fellowship and stimulating theological reflection.
In the opening presentation “The Charism of Women in Ministry,” President of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Molly T. Marshall, referenced her 36 year journey as professor and president, noting, “I believe that women bring particular grace gifts to ministry and their inclusion is transformative for Christianity and practice.” Other presentations included, “Bible Translations and How They Have Affected Women’s Engagement in Church and Society,” by Valerie Duval-Poujol of the Protestant Federation of France, “Baptist Women and Spiritual Formation,” by Eiko Kanamaru of Seinan Gakuin University, Japan, and “The Place of Women in a Baptist Theology of Ministry” in which Paul Fiddes of Regents Park College, England, made the case that the ordination of women in ministry is “squarely in accord with a Baptist theology of ministry.”
Reflected Rev. Dr. Patricia Hernandez, “Although women make up half the church, they are often overlooked, underused and unnamed. Through the” Together: Re-Imaging and Re-Reading HERstory in the Church” conference, women’s voices were heard, their stories told, and their names remembered. In doing so, people learned that what may seem like “Her” story is really Our story. And when we tell the full story we are telling God’s story and impacting the world for Christ.
Out of the conference came the resolution, “Resolution on Recognizing and Affirming the Calling of Women in the Church.” Notable in this resolution was the affirmation of the “God-given call of women to service in the church.” The last time a resolution regarding women in ministry was passed was in 1988, in which the “gifts and sensitivities” of women were affirmed but which fell short of affirming their vocational calling. The current resolution not only affirms the call of women to ministry, but also poignantly calls upon global Baptists to “repent from the teachings and practices” that “have prevented women from flourishing as human beings created in the image of God,” invites opening “ourselves to the Holy Spirit…to provoke transformation in individual lives and communities, affirming the God-given calling of women…” and challenges us “to work intentionally to create equal space for women in all leadership roles in the church.” To read the full resolution click here.
The BICTE conference was followed by the Annual Gathering of BWA where Dr. Hernandez presented a paper to the Commission on Racial and Gender Justice, “Looking at the Landscape of Women in Ministry in American Baptist Churches,” and ABCUSA General Secretary Rev. Dr. Lee Spitzer presented a resolution, “Resolution on Current Manifestations of Religious Intolerance and Religiously-Motivated Violence.”
Concluding the event, BWA General Secretary Elijah Brown proclaimed, “We belong together because we belong to Jesus!”