By Julie Whidden Long, Associate Director, Baptist Women in Ministry
Baptist Women in Ministry (BWIM) is now accepting applications for the 2020-21 Mentoring Program, which offers new ministers an opportunity to participate in two years of intentional mentoring with a group of peers. Each group is led by an experienced Baptist minister. These mentoring groups will serve as communities of support, encouragement, and guidance.
The 2020-21 program is open to Baptist women who have served in their current area of ministry for less than three years and are ministering in churches, chaplaincy, non-profit work, and other “outside-the-box” ministry settings. Applicants who have been in ministry longer than three years but are serving in a ministry position new to them are also invited to apply. The program includes participation in three retreats and monthly conversations via digital media.
BWIM began its formal mentoring program in 2017, and since then over 60 women have benefited from a year-long relationship with a mentor and peer group. Thanks to a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc.’s Thriving in Ministry initiative, the program will expand in 2020 to include two years of intentional mentoring and host two additional in-person retreats at no cost to the participants.
Rhody Mastin, participant in a 2019 mentoring cohort and pastor of children and families at Emmaus Way in Durham, North Carolina, writes of her experience with her group: “The nature of our relationship is that we don’t talk every day or see each other often. But the presence of these women is steadily known to me in the background of my ministry and relying on the hum of their encouragement isn’t something I’ve taken for granted. They’ve helped me to gain confidence and context in my first year out of divinity school as I learn to straddle the lines of bi-vocational ministry. They’ve given me room to think through where the Holy Spirit is moving and identified beautiful things in my ministry that I haven’t always been able to see or say for myself. Moving forward, I feel grateful to carry these women with me as they’ve carried me.”
Julie Pennington-Russell, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, D.C., serves as a mentor to a group of pastors in the 2019 cohort. She writes of her experience: “As a mentor to four first-time pastors this year, I’ve been enriched, challenged, and inspired by our monthly conversations (via Zoom) on topics ranging from preaching and claiming pastoral authority to setting boundaries and work-life balance. These gifted women often become my teachers as we navigate together the often-choppy waters of pastoral ministry. Mostly we hold each other in prayer and serve as hands to one other’s backs.”
The twenty 2019 program participants represent five Baptist denominations: the Alliance of Baptists, American Baptist Churches USA, Baptist General Convention of Texas, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and National Baptist Convention, USA. Included in this cohort are eight pastors, five associate pastors/staff ministers, four chaplains, one non-profit staff member, one campus ministry intern, and one divinity school staff member. They serve in nine different states: Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.