June 15, 2018
By Carrie McGuffin
DALLAS—A leading Baptist advocate for women in ministry, Rev. Dr. Pam Durso, was honored Friday evening during the 2018 CBF General Assembly with the Carolyn Weatherford Crumpler Leadership Alumni Award, in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the immensely popular This is What A Preacher Looks Like t-shirt.
Durso serves as executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry (BWIM), where she is an advocate and a resource for women serving in all areas of Christian ministry. She began her role in 2009, after serving as a volunteer on BWIM’s Leadership Team for four years, also serving as the associate executive director-treasurer of the Baptist History and Heritage Society and on the faculty of Campbell University Divinity School as assistant professor of church history and Baptist Heritage. Along with her role at BWIM, Durso serves as a professor at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, Ga.
“We owe you such a debt of gratitude for the roots you have planted and for the wings that are yet to come,” said CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter, who presented Durso with the award.
“Your most recent role is as a preacher—an interim pastor in Norman, Oklahoma, and so the inspiration of these that you have launched into ministry, I think comes back full circle. Thank you, thank you, my sister, my friend. I present you this award with gratitude.”
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Leadership Alumni Award is named for Carolyn Weatherford Crumpler, a prominent leader in CBF life who passed away in January 2015. The naming of the award honors all that Crumpler represented as an advocate of CBF and global missions. The award is presented each year to a past Coordinating Council or Governing Board member who exemplifies outstanding service to the Fellowship.
Drawing on the wisdom of the animated movie “Cars 3,” Durso expressed her gratitude for a community that has embraced her calling to mentorship, academia and pastoral leadership.
“By the end of the movie, Lightning McQueen realizes that he has many days ahead of happiness, but not as a racer—as a mentor,” said Durso. “For those of you who know me, mentoring is my grandest commitment. From the day I started with Baptist Women in Ministry nine years ago, I knew that mentoring was going to be a significant part of what we would do.”
With no funds, Durso added, BWIM provided all the mentoring possible with all the free technology they could find before receiving a grant in 2016 to begin an official mentoring program. In the two years that have passed, 40 women have benefited from cohorts alongside a seasoned mentor. Sixteen of those women have been pastors.
“But that’s not [the part of the movie] when I cried,” Durso added, focusing on the character of Cruz Ramirez—the young, new coach for Lightning McQueen. “She pushed him hard and got him to a better place in his racing days. She wanted to go fast, she wanted to race. Her dream was to be a racer. The most dramatic moment in this movie for me, was when Cruz Ramirez was having a conversation with Lightning McQueen and he says to her, ‘why don’t you race?’ and she blurts out, ‘no one ever told me I could.’
“That was my story. That’s when I cried in the movie.”
Durso went on to explain how she grew up in a Southern Baptist church and had a sense of calling to ministry at 12 years old. Durso’s journey eventually led her to Baylor, where she decided to major in Religion, then went on to get her M.Div. at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary before earning her Ph.D. in church history at Baylor, and she expressed gratitude for Dr. William Pitts, who was her mentor and dissertation supervisor.
“He has been the one who has always told me I could.”
To further celebrate the 10th anniversary of This is What A Preacher Looks Like t-shirt, the banquet featured a “Showcase of Women in Ministry,” that featured women from across the Fellowship to share their stories of ministry in a variety of settings.
Attendees heard the stories of Courtney Allen, senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Richmond, Va.; Karen Morrow, CBF field personnel in Fort Worth, Texas; Lt. Col. Leah Boling, Wing Chaplain 154th Hawaii Air National Guard, Command Chaplain at Special Operations Command Pacific; and Shauw Chin Capps, 2017-18 CBF Moderator and CEO of Hopeful Horizons in Beaufort, S.C.
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.