Making a fashion statement

“Your husband should be the one wearing that shirt.”

I blink and look down. “This is what a preacher looks like.” I pause, wondering how to respond. The woman speaking to me is a friend, complimenting my husband’s recent sermon. The thing is, I agree with all of her praise – Allyn is wonderful and a fantastic preacher. Is that all she was saying, or was this statement implying something deeper – “only men can preach…” or maybe more cutting, “you just don’t have the giftedness, sweetheart?” I assumed the best. “Wasn’t he great? But this is a Baptist Women in Ministry shirt.”

A recent Associated Baptist Press opinion piece pointed out that we don’t have time to worry about the opinions of others when it comes to women in ministry. As much as I agree and want to follow, I’m just not there. It hurts to know that a significant number of Christians think I’m not qualified to be a pastor simply because I am a woman.

And I wonder about my job options. I don’t know of a single Baptist church in Missouri that has a female lead pastor. Yesterday, I was contacted by a woman moving to Missouri who wants to attend a Baptist church that is friendly to women in leadership. I had to admit that there just isn’t one in her area. I keep hearing about how far women ministers have come, and I am truly thankful for women and men who have fought for the opportunities that exist today… but as I look at the job market, I get discouraged at how far there still is to go.

My husband asked yesterday, “what is plan B?” I sighed and stated I’d turn to a different denomination. I admitted that my involvement in BWIM-Missouri – that my desires there – are an attempt to fight for my place in the denomination that raised me. If I have to turn elsewhere, I want to make sure that the next generation of women called to ministry has a place. I want theirs to be an easy battle. So I continue proudly wearing my “This is What a Preacher Looks Like” T-shirt. Maybe next time I’ll be a bit braver in conversation.

(photo credit)

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6 Comments

Filed under BWIM-Missouri

6 responses to “Making a fashion statement

  1. Disciples of Christ. Seriously, check into it if this doesn’t work out. As far as I’ve seen in the couple of months we’ve visited several of these, they’re VERY accepting of women in leadership. We’ve seen a lot of love and acceptance….a far cry from what we’ve seen from the churches we’ve been a part of in the SBC here in Missouri.

  2. LKSeat

    Jennifer, thanks for sharing this. I hope you will hang in there–and hang in there as a Baptist, at least for as long as possible. There are number of Baptist (senior) pastors in the Japan Baptist Convention, and I don’t know why that can’t happen here–at least outside the Southern Baptist Convention.

  3. Summer

    Jennifer,
    I come originally from Texas. We have several Baptist women that are senior pastors. My pastor in college was a woman. Even in a moderate state, there was lots of adversity for women in Baptist churches. BWIM Texas, was a great place to network and receive encouragement from other women desiring all different roles in ministry. I too have considered changing denominations, but with the increasing number of people in our generation leaving I simply can not do that. I admire too greatly the heritage that we possess and desire to pass on. I hope that we can be an encouragement to one another. You are doing good work. Continue to equip the Saints.

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