Registration for the conference will begin at 8:00 a.m. and is followed by a large session, four panel discussions, a networking lunch, three breakout sessions and ends with a second large session at 4:30 p.m.
Jo Ann Sharkey Reinowski, director of academic services for Truett Seminary and secretary for Texas Baptist Women in Ministry, said there are many different ideas about the role of women in ministry. While some churches are excited about a woman serving as the lead pastor, other churches believe that women’s roles should be limited to non-ordained positions.
“We want to be an advocate for women who feel called by God to serve,” Reinowski said. “We want to provide those women with a network of support, encouragement and resources.”
Alethia Chappell DeHay, member of Texas Baptist Women in Ministry, coordinator for the conference and Truett Seminary alumna, said that this annual conference creates space for connection and meaningful conversation; as well as educational opportunities to both encourage and professionally develop ministers of the gospel in Texas.
Reinowski said she has always felt encouraged by the Texas Baptist Women in Ministry Conferences because she is surrounded by women and men who want to support and encourage women’s calls to ministry.
While Reinowski said she has seen churches become more open to women serving in ministry, the Texas Baptist Women in Ministry wants to see even more opportunities open up to women.
Reinowski said there are over 5,600 Baptist churches in Texas, and their most recent records show that only 22 of them have female pastors or co-pastors.
“That’s less than four-tenths of a percentage point,” Reinowski said. “We would love to see more opportunities for women who want to serve in all roles of church leadership, including pastoral leadership, church ministry positions, deacon service or lay ministry.”
Reinowski said encouraging and increasing opportunities for minority women in ministry is one of the Texas Baptist Women in Ministry Board’s goals. Because of this, the board will be offering travel assistance for ethnic students and women in ministry who are interested in attending the conference.
Truett Seminary is an excellent setting for the conference because of its support for women in ministry, Reinowski said. Many of its professors and staff speak at the conference or support it in other ways. Former students often return to these conferences to participate or speak as well.
“Over the years, these conferences provide a kind of ‘reunion’ for those who have attended in years past,” DeHay said. “But it’s also an exciting event because there are always women who are just beginning to see the call that God has placed on their life.”
According to the Texas Baptist Women in Ministry website, this year the panels will cover the topics: Clergy Training: A Reverse Listening Session, Expectations & Boundaries in Ministry, Dual Callings and Women in Community Ministry. Participants will be able to choose which panel they would like to attend.
The breakout session topics include Minister Moms, Practicing Reconciliation in a Fractured World, Women’s Ways of Leading, Songs for the Journey: Preaching, Praying and Ministering with the Psalms, Why Baptist Women in Ministry? and many more.