By Rachel West
As I am writing this blog, it is March, hosting Women’s History Month. I am proud to have this month to recognize women in history and leadership. We celebrate International Women’s Day during this month and empower female leaders in our midst. As a CBF Baptist who is newer than most, I am delighted that CBF has given a voice to women in ministry; a privilege that many are not able to have.
I grew up in a church setting where women serving as leaders and in pastoral roles was almost non-existent. Today, I can currently count on one hand the number of women ordained in the denomination that I grew up in — and that is disheartening. Even in the various Baptist communities I have been a part of, I still have not sat under a female minister. I have only just begun attending a church that has women on their deacon board and has licensed or ordained women into ministry and will hopefully continue to do so.
My first encounter with CBF was at the Baptist Women in Ministry North Carolina Convocation in 2019. It was the very first time that I had seen so many female ministers in one place; probably the most that I had ever seen. It was beautiful to see a diverse group of women gathering together in a place to celebrate our callings into Christian leadership, in the many ways that can unfold. I sat there in the church with my fellow classmates, my female professor and the many women and men in those pews. On this day, I became hopeful that not all church settings or ministry communities have to be anti-women in leadership. I felt like I was finally in community with other Christians who shared my beliefs and empowered each other’s God-given callings. I was seen, heard, and validated into my work of ministry.
So why am I a CBF Baptist? The short answer: they empowered my calling. True to their word, CBF has truly given an opportunity for both women and men to participate in the church, and I am grateful for that. CBF has given me the ability as a scholar to receive an education at a school that believes women are just as important in ministry as their male counterparts. CBF has also given me female role models that I would never have had otherwise. Now, I can be that female minister for young women who may not have that in their life. As I continue in my endeavors in school and in the workplace, I know that CBF will assist me in discerning my calling and walk with me in my faith.
Rachel West currently is a student at Campbell University Divinity School. She works as a Graduate Assistant for the College of Arts and Sciences at Campbell University as well.