By Jeff Huett
Years before she would become one, Trudy Pettibone was a bit sheepish about women pastors.
In fact, around 1995, she almost stayed in her hotel room rather than attend a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship meeting at University Baptist Church in Bloomington, Ind., where Annette Hill Briggs was pastor. She decided to attend the meeting with her husband, Ed, and it was at that gathering that she met someone that would have a profound effect on her.
“I met Carolyn Crumpler at that meeting,” Trudy said. “She was a treasure and a huge inspiration to me. Her missional work and involvement in Global Women, led to my interest in that organization. She added such energy to the things she was involved in.”
Crumpler was executive director of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Woman’s Missionary Union from 1974 until 1989 before she retired to serve alongside her husband, Joe Crumpler. A leader in CBF life from the start, she served as a moderator of CBF from 1995-1996.
Trudy’s journey to be a pastor actually started in Florida. She graduated from the University of South Florida specializing in Greek and Hebrew, and earned an M.Div. at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. She always thought she would teach. But doors for ministry opened after a couple of years of additional study at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Her first opportunity for ministry in the church context was with an American Baptist Churches USA congregation in Cincinnati.
“The pastor told me that I would get to preach in that role,” Trudy said, noting that it was against her wishes. “I preached twice and by the end of the first sermon, I knew that I wasn’t going to be happy unless I was either delivering sermons or at least helping to prepare them.”
Trudy and Ed eventually would serve four other American Baptist congregations in New York, with the most recent being Burnt Hills Baptist Church in Burnt Hills, New York from 2010 to 2016. But the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship was always a part of their ministry involvement.
Introduced to CBF soon after its initial meeting in 1991 when they were members of First Baptist Church of Fort Meyers, Fla., Trudy and Ed were staunch supporters of the Fellowship from the start.
“Our pastor attended the first meeting of CBF in Atlanta and came back and told us about an organization to help Baptists better understand ourselves and to help us to see where we needed to go and how to work around changes in the Southern Baptist Convention,” Ed, who like Trudy also graduated from Southern Seminary said.
As their lives took them from Florida to seminary in Kentucky, and to other stops in Ohio and New York, the Pettibone’s were active in CBF state and regional organizations. During that time, Ed served as a moderator of the website Baptistlife.com, and he was on the American Baptist Churches of New York State Board of Mission for six years. Trudy served as moderator of Baptist Fellowship of the Northeast.
These days, the wheels of their RV take them across the United States year-round. As fulltime RVers home-based in Florida, they are trying to plug into CBF there. This spring they will embark on a cross country trip that will take them to California, Washington State and Oregon. But what would a cross-country trip for them be without a map of CBF churches to visit along the way and plans to attend both the CBF General Assembly in Atlanta, June 26-30, and the American Baptist Churches USA biennial Missions Summit in Portland, Ore., June 30-July 2? This is nothing new for them.
Over the years, the Pettibones have been generous CBF supporters with their time and talents. They are also generous in their giving to support the missions and ministries of CBF.
“The missions attitude of CBF is unsurpassed,” Trudy said. “CBF is locked in to missions outside your door and around the world.
“When you see an organization that is doing what God tells us all to do, you want to support it. CBF is on the top of that list for us,” she said. “We have been blessed financially and we feel the need to share that.
“I doubt there is a better place to put the Lord’s money.”