June 23, 2016
By Carrie McGuffin
Greensboro, N.C. — “If we could catch a spark of God’s creative courage, just think of what we could do, “Emily Hull McGee, outgoing chair of CBF’s Ministries Council and pastor of First Baptist Church on Fifth in Winston-Salem, N.C., challenged Cooperative Baptists Wednesday at the annual gathering of Baptist Women in Ministry, a CBF partner organization.
With the theme of “Gathering the Fragments,” the group gathered for worship, fellowship and celebration in Winston-Salem in conjunction with the 2016 CBF General Assembly.
BWIM Executive Director Pam Durso explained that the conference theme was birthed out of the need for a God who gathers up brokenness and fragments to make up whole. In the wake of a national tragedy, like the mass shooting at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Durso emphasized that this has become even more important.
We are in need of a God of restoration, comfort and peace, she told the crowd.
Brittany Riddle, a member of the CBF Ministries Council and minister to adults at Vinton Baptist Church in Vinton, Va., explored this idea of fragmentation with the metaphor of a mosaic — something made beautiful out of broken pieces of glass and how we as Christians are called to be creators of beautiful things out of brokenness alongside our creator God.
“We are born to create,” Riddle said. “Dance, swing, get your hands dirty, and create. God meets us with open arms to transform into something new and beautiful.”
Throughout the service, leaders brought together literal fragments of glass, placing them into a mosaic and creating something beautiful as an act of worship. Attendees also received a piece of fragmented glass during the service with the challenge to “create something beautiful.”
Hull McGee urged the room of Cooperative Baptists that this necessity for Christians to create should directly the creative nature of God. Quoting the well-known biblical verse, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” Hull McGee reminded the gathering that in the beginning, “the earth was a hot mess,” and was more chaotic than not.
It was in this chaos and fragmentation that God brought creative order, Hull McGee explained. That confusion and chaos was what God has to work with, and somehow in this separation and differentiation, God in God’s wisdom and courage gathered the fragments together and called them good, she said. This wisdom and courage gave birth to a new and beautiful thing, and God continues to do this work, which we are called to do as well, Hull McGee added.
“Our churches are fragmented. So what should our response be in this time of fragment,” she asked.
Hull McGee challenged attendees to approach the Christian call to create as God approached creation, with wisdom and courage, without worry, without fear of failure, but with gladness and delight. This call to create new and beautiful things from fragments takes courage, she said, and this takes working for justice and hard conversations driven with wisdom and grace. Attendees had an opportunity to reflect on this challenge to create as they came together at the communion table and received their fragments of glass.
The service was also filled with celebration as Durso announced the recipients of the organization’s annual awards.
BWIM honored Hayes Barton Baptist Church of Raleigh, N.C., with the 2016 Church of Excellence Award, an annual recognition given to a congregation that has gone above and beyond to support women in ministry. Representatives from Hayes Barton were on hand to receive the award, including associate pastor Kristen Muse, who served from 2010 to 2014 as a member of BWIM’s leadership team.
Others were honored at the gathering for their leadership in the areas of pastoral ministry and preaching, Margaret Brooks, a student at Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, received the 2017 Addie Davis Award for Outstanding Leadership in Pastoral Ministry. Brooks serves as the associate pastoral counselor for Cornerstone Counseling of Madison County, Kentucky, a Kentucky-based nonprofit agency.
Ka’thy Gore Chappell, leadership development coordinator for CBF of North Carolina was honored with the Frankie Huff Granger Distinguished Mentor Award, celebrating her 40 years of living out her calling to serve Baptist institutions and organizations in North Carolina and Virginia.
To learn more about the work of Baptist Women in Ministry, visit http://bwim.info/www.bwim.info
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.