Category Archives: book project

A year later: Jenny Call

modmagYesterday (Nov. 13) marked the one-year anniversary of the publication of The Modern Magnificat. In honor of that, I asked all of the women who wrote for the book to update me on their lives. Quite a few have had major changes in the last year. I’ll be posting their stories (and sharing my own) over the coming days. Please share your own experiences with The Modern Magnificat in the comments.

 

To begin, an update from Jenny Call:

Jenny Portrait_CroppedSince our journey together, I had the opportunity to contribute to another book, A Divine Duet: Motherhood and Ministry (edited by Alicia Porterfield). I contribute to a blog (www.ministryandmotherhood.com) that came out of the book project, as well as my own personal blog (www.hopecalls.blogspot.com). I’m currently in the application process for a D.Min program in Educational Leadership at Virginia Theological Seminary that would begin in the summer. I hope to continue to develop my skills as I am in the third year of my calling as university chaplain at Hollins University, a small women’s liberal arts college in Roanoke, Virginia. Writing continues to be a calling for me and a spiritual discipline to help me reflect upon and process the challenges of ministry and personal life. A highlight of my writing experience came when Sarah Bessey recently quoted from my blog post (http://hopecalls.blogspot.com/2013/11/when-baptist-women-go-wild.html)  on her blog (http://sarahbessey.com/synchroblog-favourites/). Unfortunately, I’ve been too paralyzed by my own expectations to write since.  🙂

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Vulnerability

Vulnerable. I feel vulnerable.

vulnerableYesterday Jeff Brumley, assistant editor of Associated Baptist Press, asked if I thought my book will help me find a pastoral position. I responded that it could go either way (see the full story here).

My deepest hope with this book is that it will help open the door a little wider, make the path a little easier for Baptist women who hear God’s call to ministry. I pray this book will help continue a conversation that has been going on long before I entered the scene. I believe stories are important, and I believe that telling our stories has great power. But with that power comes great risk.

I heard about that risk from many women during the process of compiling The Modern Magnificat. For some the risk came in revisiting traumatic experiences. For others the risk was in alienating people they loved — people who did not always play a positive role in their stories. Some incredibly brave women chose not to submit their stories, believing the risk of damage to relationships outweighed the possible good that could come from letting others read their words.

In compiling this book, I recognize that I seal my place as an advocate for women in ministry. Of course, one might say that I accomplished that long ago. Being known as an advocate is risky. Advocacy is sometimes associated with militancy, which can be downright scary!

I live in Missouri, a state that just over a year ago had no female senior pastors in Baptist life. Right now we have four. And while that gives me great hope, I recognize that Baptist churches in this part of the country are trying out female pastors for the first time. It is significant enough to call a woman — but to call one who might be militant?

I’ve taken a risk. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t scare me. But I’ve come to believe some risks are worth it. If my vulnerability, if my risk means that the next generation of women find the road to ministry a little easier to walk, I’ll take it.

(photo credit)

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‘The Modern Magnificat’ Giveaway

Our stories are important. Sometimes I forget the value of my own story. It is much easier to highlight the stories of others — of those who are brave, worthy of honor. In my years as a journalist, I used to have to convince people that their story was worth telling — that their experience was something others needed to hear. The truth is, there is value in all of our stories. They all need to be told and retold. Stories empower both the teller and the hearer. Stories can change us. That is why I compiled The Modern Magnificat. The book is a collection of the stories of 23 women who have been called to ministry. Each story invites us into the fears, pains, and joys that accompany each individual’s journey. I hope the book will empower you to tell your own story — whether or not you are called to be an ordained minister.

I’m posting a giveaway below. You’ll have several opportunities to win your own copy of The Modern MagnificatI’ll use rafflecopter to choose a winner on Dec. 1! If you prefer to buy the book now, see this post for links.

To enter the giveaway, click here and follow the instructions:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Introducing ‘The Modern Magnificat’

The Modern Magnifat is now available for purchase in ebook and print form. I’d love to hear from you as you read it! In honor of the book being released, I’m posting the book introduction:

What does it mean to be called by God? How do you know when you’ve heard God’s voice? How do you discern where God is leading?Whom does God call? Might God be calling me?

Calling is surrounded by questions. Am I hearing this right? Am I crazy? God wants me to do what? When Moses was called, his first response was, “Who am I?” Isaiah quickly replied, “Here am I; send me!”But when God shared with Isaiah what that call meant, he questioned, “How long, O Lord?” Sarah laughed. Mary asked, “How can this be?”

Calling is confusing and curious. It often takes us by surprise, inviting us to join God’s work in a way we had never considered or dreamed.

For many women, the call to ministry is particularly challenging. Those of us raised in the Baptist tradition were often taught that God simply doesn’t call women—but only men—to the ministry. And yet, the Spirit continues blowing where she will, dancing around both women and men, inviting all to join in service. What is a woman to do when she hears that call? How is she to remain faithful to what she was taught, while remaining faithful to the voice of God?

This book is an attempt to chronicle the journey of calling. In its pages, you will find the stories of twenty-three Baptist women who heard God’s call. These women are from a variety of backgrounds, spanning Baptist life. You will find Southern Baptists, Cooperative Baptists, American Baptists, Missionary Baptists, Alliance of Baptists, and others. There are women who are committed to being life-long Baptists. There are women who find their identity in the Baptist church, but have found places of service among the Disciples of Christ, United Methodists, and Mennonites. There are women who are not sure if they will be able to remain Baptist.

Why Baptist women? Baptists are still at a deciding point concerning women in ministry. Most other denominations have either fully embraced women or have blanket rules prohibiting women from the pastorate. I believe Baptist women are in a unique situation, serving in a denomination that will ordain them, but may or may not hire them.

While this book was being compiled, Baptist Women in Ministry (BWIM) released a news report stating that there are now 150 women pastoring or co-pastoring in Alliance, Baptist General Association of Virginia, Baptist General Convention of Texas, and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship churches—the largest number in the history of these groups. The number of women pastoring or co-pastoring in American Baptist Churches is 485. According to the American Baptist Churches’ website, the denomination partners with 5,500 congregations. By these numbers, just over eight percent of American Baptist Churches have women pastors.

While there are women who are still being ordained and called by Southern Baptist Churches, the Southern Baptist Convention officially states that the role of pastor is reserved for men. Because of this, there are no real statistics for women serving in Southern Baptist life.

I am honored to be able to share these stories with you. Among the pages are women who have helped shape me: friends, BWIM colleagues, and my ministry mentor. Others are new friends I met through this project. Joy Yee, who graciously wrote the foreword for this book, is the first woman I heard preach. I was a college student at the time. Many others provided help and encouragement along the way. My dear friend, Rev. Kate Hanch, served as a sounding board for this book. Countless friends and family members helped spread the word in my search for stories.

I hope these stories help offer insight into the experience of calling. The words offered here will not make the experience any less mysterious, nor should they. God speaks to us all in individual and personal ways. But reading and hearing examples of how God speaks and calls is beneficial to all—men and women, ministers and laity. As ministers, I believe it is important to hear one another’s stories. It is a reminder that we are not alone, that there are others who share in the wider story.

For a denomination torn over women in ministry, I believe it is important to hear the voices of those who are seeking a place of service. Hearing call stories offers a face—or at least a name—to what is often labeled an issue. When we do not know particular women who are called to ministry, it is easy to make assumptions about what type of woman wants to be a pastor. When we do not hear the stories of how churches and individuals can hurt women, we are content in telling pastoral candidates that they are the best person for the position, but our churches are just not ready for a female pastor.

I have attempted to present these stories in the words of those who wrote them. Wherever possible, I edited only for grammar and clarity. I know you will be blessed as you read their words. The stories you will find in this book are sometimes painful, but they are also teeming with hope and strength. I pray that as you read, you will not only grieve, but rejoice in the many ways God is still working in and through Baptist women.

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Sneak Peek of “The Modern Magnificat” cover

This is the official cover for The Modern Magnificat. I cried when I received it. I hope you love it as much as I do. The book is on its way to the printer and should be available for purchase at the end of this month. I will be available for speaking engagements, readings, book signings, etc. I’m so excited to share The Modern Magnificat with you!

Image

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We have a title!

As I’m sure many of you know, there is far more to publishing a book than sending in a manuscript. This week I’ve been compiling book blurbs, sending photos, and writing yet another bio (this one for the cover). Among the tasks was settling on a final title. I absolutely adored our working title (thanks Rev. Kate Hanch!), but as it turns out Priesthood of ALL Believers doesn’t really do much for artists who are trying to create an attractive cover.
On Wednesday, The FaithLab team had a brainstorming session (while on retreat!) and Jim Dant had a brilliant idea.

I am so excited to present to you the new, official title of my upcoming book:

The Modern Magnificat: Women Responding to the Call of God 

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What’s in a name?

I need your help! My book is in its final stages (WOOHOO!) which means . . . I need a finalized title. I’ve been using Priesthood of ALL Believers, which I am quite fond of. Recently, however, I’ve had some feedback suggesting the title might be too limiting. So I need your opinion: what do you think? Does the title work for you for a collection of call stories from Baptist women ministers? Does it not? If not, do you have a suggestion?

I’m also trying to craft a subtitle. The book features the stories of 22 amazing women and ministers.  I’d love to read your ideas!

You can see more discussion of this at my facebook page.

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