baptist women in ministry / Newsroom / Resources

BWIM, CBF team up to produce 4-session curriculum resource

April 27, 2023

Baptist Women in Ministry and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship are producing a four-session curriculum for adults, youth and children to help close the gap between what Cooperative Baptists profess about women’s leadership in the church and the actual practice in their churches.

“Equally Called: Celebrating Women’s Leadership in the Church” will be launched at CBF’s General Assembly, in Atlanta, June 28-30. The curriculum includes discussion guides and video components that invite congregations to consider how Scripture reveals God’s plan for all of humanity – male and female together – to serve God’s people. The resource will help churches articulate the biblical and theological basis for affirming the calling of women and nurture a culture that more fully welcomes their leadership.

BWIM Executive Director Meredith Stone said that while many identify affirmation of women in ministry and leadership as a core value of CBF and equality of women is often proudly proclaimed, data from BWIM’s recent State of Women in Baptist Life report demonstrates that practice within CBF congregations does not match the beliefs we state.

The report found, for example, that 86 percent of women in ministry experience obstacles to their ministry because of their gender.  

“In light of the gap between what we profess and practice, BWIM has been proud to partner with CBF to create ‘Equally Called,’ a curriculum designed to reinforce the biblical foundations for full participation in ministry, while also describing the realities that women in ministry experience today, and cultivating a vision for the beloved community that the Bible points us toward,” Stone said. “This curriculum is for congregations that are newly discovering support for women in ministry as well as congregations that have supported women in ministry for years. We hope it will be an encouragement to engage and re-engage practices of affirming, valuing and elevating women in ministry and leadership.”

CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley said that “from our beginning, an overwhelming number of Cooperative Baptists have affirmed that God equally calls women and men to all places of leadership in the church.” He agreed with Stone, though, saying that “we still have work to do for our Fellowship and our congregations to be holy spaces where the gifts of women and men equally flourish in faithfulness in Christ.” 

“We have professed this conviction because of what we read in Scripture and because of the powerful evidence around us of the ways women are gifted and called,” Baxley said. “In these days, we confess that in too many ways, our practice has not yet fulfilled our profession.” 

Baxley strongly encouraged congregations in the Fellowship to plan to use the resource as soon as it is available and prays that through this use, “we will be equipped and transformed until our lives offer powerful evidence that women and men alike are equally called.”

Jennifer Garcia Bashaw, associate professor of New Testament and Christian Ministry at Campbell University, co-wrote the curriculum and serves as the biblical studies expert in the videos.

“Equally Called,” she said, reflects how the foundational stories of our faith affirm the mutuality of women and men and highlight the necessity for unity, not hierarchy, in our world. 

“We learn that Jesus pushed against the assumptions of his culture by calling women as disciples, centering the experiences of marginalized women, and teaching women alongside men,” she said. “We also get a glimpse of the counter-cultural reality of women’s leadership in the early Church, something that should inspire us to enact God’s egalitarian vision for humanity. 

“This curriculum,” she said, “ will remind congregations of the biblical roots for the full participation of women in ministry and urge them toward active advocacy for equality in the Church today.”


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