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Baptist Women in Ministry Month

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28 (NIV) 

            The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has designated February as Baptist Women in Ministry Month.  The purpose is to celebrate the role of women, especially women preachers, in the life of the church.  Last Sunday our Minister of Worship, Marlo Wright, preached the Sunday’s message.   Saying she did well would be an understatement.  She received a spontaneous ovation in the contemporary service.  What surprised me was not that Marlo preached so well or COTD’s positive response.  What surprised me was the thought that there are churches and denominations where women are not permitted to preach.

            Thirty years ago I thought the barriers in churches and denominations denying full access to women’s gifts would be few and far between.  Even though Jesus included women as equals in his ministry, God gave women the responsibility of first proclaiming the resurrection, and Paul, yes, Paul, declared the end to class, racial and gender barriers in Galatians 3:28, still women are denied full expression of their gifts.  What a shame.

            Last week I was in North Carolina and reconnected with a young woman who began her ministry when I was in Chapel Hill.  She’s seeking to discern a call to church planting. Yesterday, I spoke with my former associate pastor who is now a Senior Pastor outside Charlotte.  She will be preaching one of the sermons at the North Carolina Cooperative Baptist Fellowship annual meeting and was just accepted into Duke Divinity School’s Doctor of Ministry program.  Other women who began their ministry at churches I pastored are serving Christ as a college professor teaching youth ministry, a minister of education, and a hospice worker. 

          Imagine for a moment the loss to the Kingdom if these gifted, capable women had been barred from ministry, which brings me to my closing point.  COTD is unique in its openness to women in ministry. Marlo was not the first woman to preach at COTD nor the last.  Our last three Chairs of Deacons have been women.  Many of our committees are chaired by women.  Some hyper conservatives might say that’s a sure sign the church is liberal.  I would say that’s a sure sign Christ is present and being male or female does not determine giftedness.  Folks, COTD’s got this one right.  Are we perfect?  Not by a long shot.  Yet, I believe we’re in God’s plan for the church on this one.  My encouragement is that we stay there.

            If you’re reading this blog looking for a church home where women may fully utilize their gifts and talents in service to the Kingdom, COTD may be a church you will want to consider.

Posted by Jack Mercer with

Saying Goodbye

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Yesterday we said goodbye for now to a wonderful woman of faith. Beverly Kennedy lived and died sharing her faith every day. She will never know how many lives she touched as a school teacher for OCPS, as a Sunday school teacher for Church On The Drive, as a mentor and as a friend. I met Bev on September 9th1979, when she joined College Park Baptist church, as the church was then called. She and her husband Dan had moved to Orlando from Gainesville for Dan’s work. What drew me to her was her radiant smile and sweet spirit. It didn’t take anyone long to know what a special person she was and how just talking to her could change your life.

Bev loved her Lord and wanted everyone she met to know him as well. She spent time with children in her classroom at school and in her classroom at church. She got to know each child personally, what was going on in their lives and what they were having trouble with. She prayed for each child in her personal prayer time, for each family that was involved with that child.

Not only was Bev a gifted teacher, she was also a gifted artist. She did sketches of each child in her class. The drawings that are posted here are some of her work. The detail of each child shows the love she had for each student and how she saw them. In her home she has sketches of her own children at different stages of their lives. What a wonderful gift for a child to have a sketch of themselves from someone who loves them very much.

When Bev’s cancer came back she never asked, "why Lord?" She faced the situation head on and started the fight that she had already beat once several years ago. She showed God’s love to each person she had contact with during her treatment. And when those treatments weren’t working anymore she faced the reality that her life here on this earth was going to end. She told those that she loved how much they meant to her and how she wished she could have won this fight, but that she was ready to go be with her beloved Dan and the Jesus she served her whole life. I grieve for her family. For her daughter, two sons, and grandchildren. For her mother who won’t always remember that she is no longer here and might wonder why she hasn’t come to visit her. And for her students, who loved her so much and a few who knew she was so sick went and visited with her a few days before she died and told her how much she changed their lives and how much she meant to them. Yesterday we cried for what we have lost in her not being here but we rejoiced in where she is at now.

Bev, you were and will always be loved by us and will be missed, but your spirit will live on in each person you touched and each child you taught. I will see you again someday and I know we will pick up our friendship right where we left it the last day we spoke. Love you, my friend.  

Posted by Debbie Hairel with

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