20th Anniversary of Accrediting Women
Our Association accredited its first female pastors 20 years ago this month. We honour and thank the women who over the last 20 years have taken the journey of pastoral accreditation as they pursue God’s calling on their lives. Some of their stories will be shared on Facebook and Instagram in the times ahead, as we continue to seek to live out our value of empowering and supporting both men and women to glorify God in all of their lives.
Lord God we acknowledge that giftedness and calling come from you. We thank you that you equip us for ministry through your Spirit and place us where we can serve the body of Christ and your Kingdom. We thank you for the many faithful women who have chosen to serve you despite the difficulties they have faced & the opposition they have encountered. As your people we have not always affirmed women. We ask your forgiveness for the times we have been dismissive of those you have called. We apologise for when we have not affirmed their giftings and callings. We acknowledge that at times we have acted in ways that were contrary to your will.
We thank you for the diversity and giftedness that the women in our church and wider Association bring to your Kingdom, and we pray that we might affirm and encourage them, that we might be raising up women of all ages to minister in your name. Give us your discernment and wisdom to see those you have gifted, and to recognise and provide opportunities for girls and women to use their giftedness. Help us to listen to their stories, and to encourage them in their walk with you. Above all may we be a church that accepts and affirms all those who minister in your name.
Honouring Their Stories
Accredited in 1999
Accredited in 2019
So how did I get here? Well, I was saved 15 years year ago in Australia as the first Christian in my family after being brought up in a Buddhist family. After I became a Christian, I was on fire for God and the Gospel. I have tasted the richness of God’s Words since I was saved. I loved meditating on and reading the Bible. I have experienced the depth of prayer when I experienced infertility problems , I received a gift of my daughter from God. When my daughter was one year old, God clearly called me to the pastoral ministry. In 2014, my church appointed me as a student pastoral worker but the pastoral training was limited as they held the complementarian view of woman’s leadership. I had been taught only this view of woman’s leadership when I studied the Reformed theology so I was struggling between my vocation and theology. I was also convicted that I was mission- focused and pastoral-focused and this conviction led me to believe that there was a call on my life to be a church planter. In the view of the reformed circle, I couldn’t find my position with my gift and call. So I wrestled with God about my calling and finally, I moved to Morling College and to the Baptist church and I was clearly reconfirmed my call as a pastor and a church planter.
My church and college were open wide, welcoming for me to enter the Baptist world. I could see many woman lecturers and pastors who were encouraging my leadership and vision of call. The process of accreditation was rigorous however I could gain the confidence of my call as I had been accepted. My leadership as a woman was strengthened more and more in confidence and competence in the church ministry. Yet, as an Asian woman, and as an English second language pastor in the English congregation, it was not an easy process for a local church to accept me as a pastor. Especially as I brought a new vision for inter-cultural church. The whole package; a new ministry, an Asian woman in leadership and a new idea of integrating cultures in ministry, was not easy to implement into the existing church.
However, through patience, tears, prayers, communication and the support of mentors and friends, I finally had a pastoral role in the church and could gain accreditation. I was a woman, church planting with an Asian, and non-Baptist background. Facing barriers that could make the journey to accreditation tricky, but I was encouraged and affirmed.I have been patient and faithful to the vision that God gave me even though I could have found somewhere else where I could find it easier to get accredited. By His faithfulness and mercy, the Lord finally opened up the ministry and vision in the church at the last minute. I am grateful and honoured to be part of the Baptist Women who have been accredited.
God has given me a deep desire to see both women and men serving God together with their gifts, including pastoral ministry. I pursued accreditation because I wanted to “be the change I wish to see.” I rejoice for the encouragement and support God has given me in my journey. These included: the wonderful support of my husband, opportunities to preach and teach, people’s recognition of my gifts and appreciation of my ministry. Previously, I was serving as a pastor in an independent Chinese church. One of the challenges of my journey was the initial decision to apply for accreditation – as I needed to move out of my comfort zone. I am now an accreditation candidate facing the challenge of finding a church to serve. My dream is to plant churches which encourage both women and men to flourish in ministry.
My hope for NSW & ACT Baptist women and men is – women and men working together as one, shoulder to shoulder, using their God-given gifts to build the Kingdom of God. For this reason, I explored the journey of five accredited female ministers of Baptist churches of NSW & ACT in my MA research project. I am hoping the findings will provide some insights for women who are exploring their call to pastoral ministry, and for people who want to encourage women to pursue their calling. My research project, For the Women Who Are Called is now available as a resource
Guided by God Reflections on stories from the Bible, History and Today
by Graeme Chatfield, Julie Powell, Max Davidson, Brian Powell
Published by Morling Press, this book contains stories of the calls of both women and men, many from without our Baptist movement.
The aim of this study is to explore how the journeys of female accredited ministers
could be utilised as a resource to contribute toward improving the statistics.