Assembly 2015 / Newsroom

Baptist Women in Ministry gathering invites attendees to embrace ‘daring generosity’

June 17, 2015

By Carrie McGuffin

DALLAS — More than 300 Baptists gathered Wednesday to celebrate 32 years of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship-partner Baptist Women in Ministry (BWIM) at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas in conjunction with the 2015 CBF General Assembly.

BWIM Executive Director Pam Durso welcomed Baptists from around the country to the annual gathering where attendees were invited into “daring generosity” through the words of Julie Pennington-Russell, former pastor of First Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga.

Julie Pennington-Russell addresses attendees at the BWIM Annual Gathering in Dallas, Texas.

Julie Pennington-Russell addresses attendees at the BWIM Annual Gathering in Dallas, Texas.

“I felt this current run through me, and a word in that current said ‘possible,’” said Pennington-Russell, as she reflected on her calling to be a woman in pastoral ministry.

Pennington-Russell shared thoughts from her ministry as she reflected on the story of the widow’s mite from Luke 21:1-4, connecting this story with that of many ministers and those she called “Kingdom People.”

“Kingdom People don’t clench,” Pennington-Russell said. There is an assumption, she added, among those who continue to give and give of themselves and their resources that God will make up what is depleted in us, but “you can only operate so long by grim determination — maybe it is time to dare some generosity to yourself.”

BWIM honored First Baptist Church of Austin, Texas, with the 2015 Church of Excellence Award, an annual recognition given to a congregation that has gone above and beyond to support women in ministry. Representatives from FBC Austin were present to receive the award and a blessing from Durso, and Roger Paynter, the recently-retired pastor of FBC Austin, offering words of affirmation for the church’s commitment to supporting women in ministry through the ordination of deacons and female pastors. This commitment to gender equity in leadership began with FBC Austin’s first ordination of women deacons in 1974.

Others were honored at the gathering for their leadership in the areas of pastoral ministry and preaching. Crystal M. Shepherd, a student at the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, received the 2015 Addie Davis Award for Outstanding Leadership in Pastoral Ministry. Shepherd felt a call to ministry as a pastoral counselor and shares her gifts by serving as a counselor at the St. Luke Christian Counseling Center and at her home church of Central Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky.


BWIM Executive Coordinator Pam Durso (center) with the winners of the 2015 Addie Davis Awards, Brenda Kay Hafer (left) and Crystal M. Shepherd (right).

The 2015 Addie Davis Award for Excellence in Preaching was presented to Brenda Kay Hafer, a recent graduate of Campbell University Divinity School who serves as minister to children and families at First Baptist Church in Southern Pines, N.C.

Molly T. Marshall, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, was honored with the Frankie Huff Granger Distinguished Mentor Award in celebration of her more than 30 years of service to both the church and the academy.

“I have watched her, learned from her and heard wise words from her,” Durso said. “Baptist Women in Ministry is grateful for this beautiful gift of mentoring.”

To keep up with news, photos and videos from the 2015 CBF General Assembly in Dallas, Texas, and for information on watching the online livestream of the evening June 17-19 worship and commissioning services of Assembly, please visit


CBF is a Christian Network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry eff­orts, global missions and a broad community of support.The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.

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