CBF and Baptist Women in Ministry to host Leading Women gathering


March 22, 2017

By Carrie McGuffin

DECATUR, Ga. — As the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship celebrates 25 years, it also celebrates the influential women who call CBF home and are leaders in their churches and communities around the world. Leading Women, a three-day gathering co-hosted by Baptist Women in Ministry (BWIM), will be held April 26-28 at First Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn.

Ruth Perkins Lee, CBF director of ministries, emphasized the importance of women’s voices in Baptist life as the foundation for this new Leading Women celebration.

“At this momentous 25-year mark, we gather to celebrate the women of the Fellowship,” Perkins Lee said. “Women’s voices are heard in every aspect of our family of free and faithful Baptists. We are celebrating those who have participated in the formation of CBF, those who have joined along the way and those who are just beginning the journey.”

Leading Women will bring together women ministers and students, lay leaders, young Baptists and seasoned influencers. While creating space for dialogue and dreaming, Baptist women will have the opportunity to worship together, network and fellowship. Intentional times of leadership development will also resource participants to better navigate the difficult conversations in churches where there is division and tension.

Keynote speakers Molly T. Marshall, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kan., CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter, and Kasey Jones, pastor of National Baptist Memorial Church in Washington, D.C., will begin a series of “Lead Talks,” offering glimpses into a wide variety of experiences and resources with time to follow up for additional in-depth conversation.

Other featured speakers include: Carol McEntyre, pastor of First Baptist Church, Columbia, Mo.; Meredith Stone, director of ministry guidance and instructor of Christian ministry and scripture, Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene, Texas; Raquel Contreras, general director, Baptist Spanish Publishing House, El Paso, Texas; and others.

Leading Women will feature an April 27 banquet to celebrate individuals who represent the diversity of service within the Fellowship — women who are pioneers, women looking toward the future and multi-generational families of women ministers.

Pam Durso, executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, a CBF-partner organization that advocates for Baptist women called to and gifted for ministry, expressed her hope that Leading Women offers space for women to learn and grow together.

“My hope and dream for Leading Women is that this gathering will provide the space for extended conversations around fellowship tables for the deepening of old friendships and the creation of new ones, and for time to worship together, learn from each other and celebrate all that God has done and is doing through women leaders and ministers within our Baptist family,” Durso said.

The goal is that women will return to their local congregations with renewed energy, having heard empowering stories, learned new leadership skills and expanded their circles of friendship, according to Durso and Perkins Lee.

Join CBF and BWIM in celebrating the influence and voices of leading Baptist women. Learn more and register today at


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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