Photos: Janie Sellers; HSU alum, Dr. Emily Prevost, visits with students attending the conference; Dr. Bob Ellis, associate dean for academics at Logsdon Seminary, conducts break-out session
“One of the things I enjoy about this conference is the opportunity women have to learn how to lead gently and effectively,” says lifelong missionary Janie Sellers. While Janie has faced a number of struggles as a woman in ministry, she says progress has been made in the overall acceptance of women who have been called to lead. “There are many more opportunities available for women today than when I graduated from college,” says Sellers. “I have seen the number of positions for women in ministry grow over the years, and not just in churches, so I know we are making progress.”
Sellers has spent much of her missionary career in Indonesia, and almost every summer she helps her husband, professor of missions and theology at HSU, as he takes students somewhere in the world for study-abroad classes that he teaches.
Sellers is one of about 150 students and professionals from across Texas to attend the Women in Ministry Conference. Texas Baptists partnered with HSU’s Logsdon Seminary to present the seventh Women in Ministry Conference, February 22, 2013, on the campus. This is the fourth time HSU’s Logsdon Seminary has hosted the event.
Designed for women and men who are interested in issues related to women in ministry and church leadership, the conference helps to equip and provide networking opportunities for women called to vocational ministry and those who support women in ministry.
Meredith Stone, an alumna of HSU’s undergraduate and Master of Arts in Religion programs, leads the Women in Ministry work for Texas Baptists (Baptist General Convention of Texas). Stone says, “Women who minister in Texas Baptist life often do not have that many other female ministers with whom to have community and to share struggles and successes.
“Women ministers, whether they are chaplains, children’s ministers, pastors, missionaries, or student pastors, are still the minority in our context. This conference provides an opportunity for encouragement, equipping, and being together with others who share in their journey,” says Stone.
Sellers says beliefs in many churches are based on tradition. “So often, people pick one verse and base an entire way of thinking on that one verse instead of taking the Bible as a whole. At this conference, we give people hope and encouragement by sharing our stories. Women learn how to effectively deal with the limitations others put on them, and learn how to teach people in churches about the scriptures that support the calling of all people.”
The conference is of particular interest to the many students attending from Texas Baptist affiliated universities, including Hardin-Simmons University, HSU’s Logsdon Seminary, Baylor University, Truett Seminary; Dallas Baptist University; East Texas Baptist University; and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
Additionally, the conference helps students preparing for ministry find mentors in their journey says Stone. “For those of us who went through college and seminary preparing for ministry 10 or 20 years ago, we didn’t have a lot of role models of women in ministry. Events like these allow female students preparing for ministry to get to know women ministers who have gone before them and who can help them along the way.
“The conference allows students to see the options they have in ministry," continues Stone. “Many young women think they can only serve in a few capacities in Baptist life, but seeing the wide array of ministries in which women serve helps young women expand how they imagine their callings.”
Sellers adds, “All ministers struggle with criticism. Women often encounter a lack of acceptance and people who are unsupportive of their calling because they are women. This conference gives us the tools we need to answer God’s calling upon our lives and to do our ministry more effectively.”