Truett webinar series aims to foster religious community among women

Dr. Rebecca Hays aims to foster community and emphasize the importance of being around authentic Christian women. Photo courtesy of Dr. Hays

By Mary Watson Vergnolle | Reporter

Virtual attendees have the opportunity to hear Dr. Rebecca Poe Hays, an assistant professor of Christian Scriptures at Truett Theological Seminary, speak as a part of the 2021 Baptist Women in Ministry Conference this Friday.

Her virtual webinar, ‘A Balanced Life in an Upside-Down World,’ aims to engage viewers through scripture, conversation and community.

As someone heavily involved in ministry, Poe Hays said she has seen the importance of an authentic female community among Christian women. The 2021 Baptist Women in Ministry Conference & Webinar Series is presented by both Texas Baptist Women in Ministry as well as Truett Seminary, in collaborative effort to “plan a relevant, accessible, and engaging conference,” according to their website.

“As a Baptist woman in ministry myself, I know first-hand how important it is to have a community who can encourage, challenge and equip you to serve God and the world in the ways God calls,” Poe Hays said. “Being female in roles that are still primarily occupied by men can be lonely, discouraging and, at times, infuriating. Texas Baptist Women in Ministry provides support for so many of us so that we can keep our eyes on Jesus and not bog down in our struggles.”

Highlighting that Christians are not alone in their journey and exemplifying the value that Christian community can provide is one of the Poe Hays’ goals as she prepares to share God’s message through the scriptures to others virtually.

“I hope people—women and men alike—will take away from this event the assurance that they are not alone in their struggles. Scripture tells us it’s not good for us to be alone, and it tells us to help carry each other’s burdens,” Poe Hays said. “Life is hard, and life over the past year has been particularly hard. Knowing that you’re not the only one who feels overwhelmed can help keep you going.”

Due to the affects of COVID-19, virtual events increased in popularity at Baylor and around the world. Even though students and faculty alike are continually bombarded with online meetings and obligations, Poe Hays said she sees virtual conferences as an opportunity to connect people globally, even though engaging online can be more challenging.

“The good side is that online events allow people from all over the world to come together. Building global community and learning from people in different contexts is a wonderful gift of this season,” Poe Hays said. “The bad side is that I do think we are all getting screen fatigue, and we all know how easy it is to turn on a webinar or a class meeting and then start doing something else. It will be easy for us to come away with the impression we’ve gained a lot from these opportunities when in fact they just bounced off the surface of our brains.”

Poe Hays said she is eager to share her thoughts and personal experience on how to balance being a Christian during this difficult time of distance from usual communities and loved ones. She hopes attendees will feel inspired to remain encouraged by their Christian peers and feel called to act as leaders for one another within the context of the Bible.

“I am most looking forward to the Q&A,” Poe Hays said. “The topic of how to juggle all of our competing responsibilities—particularly in this really difficult season—is a really personal one, and so I’m looking forward to hearing from our webinar attendees about how they have been challenged and how they are building resilience.”

Sejana Yoo, a first year theology student at Truett Seminary and event attendee, said she is inspired by the mission of women like Poe Hays and their desire to continue reaching people despite the distance that COVID-19 continues to create.

“It’s my first year at Truett Seminary so I wanted to immerse myself in everything offered regarding women in ministry,” Yoo said. “It was a bonus that all of the webinars presented were of personal interest to me in this season of my life and to better help others that I care for. I know that showing our support through attendance and engagement shows others that we want them to continue making these types of trainings and connections available for us.”

When asked about the impact she hopes to leave on the Baylor community through her message, Poe Hays expanded on the role of a Christian in society, emphasizing the availability of opportunities that Christians have to minister and serve those around them.

“I hope women at Baylor will feel encouraged by the community and resources Texas Baptist Women in Ministry and Truett Seminary offer. Every Christian is called to minister to those around them,” Poe Hays said. “My prayer is that we can take advantage of the opportunities we have in this place and time to learn how to minister more effectively.”