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.

A Prayer on the Accreditation of Women by Jenny Casey, Coordinator of Pastoral Accreditation & Recognition.

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

Cheryl Clendinning

Cheryl Clendinning

Accredited in 1999

The thought of ordination was not on my radar, yet as I have discovered time and time again, God has a way of opening doors to previous unseen opportunities. In the midst of completing extended studies in the USA in the early 90’s, I was invited to consider ordination by members of my faith community. Although I had many personal objections to God, the pathway unfolded which did lead to me being ordained by the Philadelphia Baptist Association (member of the American Baptists) June 12, 1994.
My return to Australia coincided with the discussions re the ordination of women and in turn this became known as ‘Accreditation’ for all considering (or already involved in) pastoral leadership/ministry. The process of accreditation was now made available to include women and so as a person ordained by a member of the Baptist World Alliance, my ordination could be recognised and so my acceptance to be accredited was agreed upon at the June 1999 Assembly meeting. Others would follow at the September Assembly.
At that time I was the Associate Pastor at Mortdale-Oatley Baptist and I did greatly appreciate the Baptist Union in my home state recognising the call that I believed God had placed upon my life. This year, 2019, particularly in June, has been a significant milestone to remember and celebrate 25 years since my ordination service, and 20 years since being accreditated.
I have heard on occasions (usually by ordained men) that having or using the title of Rev is not important, but as a woman, it has been a significant door opener. Particularly in my role within the Association, as the SRE Consultant, and working strongly with other denominations and sometimes other faith groups, to carry this formal recognition has given that sense of credibility and acknowledgement.
The journey as a woman, who strongly has that sense of call from God to be in pastoral leadership (though what this looks like can vary), has not always been easy. There is an imbalance – not many churches seem open to the potential of having a woman in leadership, and the surplus and availability of woman who are very capable, trained, gifted and called to fulfil such roles. I have greatly appreciated the grace and support of many, if not all, of the women, who have championed each other to explore what often feels like limited opportunities of ministry. My hope for the present and future is to see leaders called into positions of leadership, regardless of gender but rather focused and based on their gifting, training, suitability and desire to serve God.
Lynnie Wraight

Lynnie Wraight

Accreditation Candidate

Way back in 2002 I started my journey into ministry and accreditation when I started studying at Morling fulltime. As a young and an enthusiastic 22 year old who had only been a Christian a few years I never would have thought 17 years later I would finally be named an accreditee for ministry. Who will hopefully get accredited in 2021, a mere 19 years after I began.
During my time at morling I met and married my husband Noel who was training to be a Pastor as well. Although we have always thought of ourselves as a team and together in ministry, on paper that hasn’t always worked out.
As a female who is married to an accrediated Baptist pastor it has always been easier for him to get a paid position in a church. And whilst i have never wavered on my own calling to ministry, I have had a much more indirect path to being called a pastor and finally accreditation.
However, these years have refined my calling and helped me understand the gifts God has given me. In 2015 Springwood Baptist Church employed me as a families worker, in 2017 they named me, alongside two other females, their first female pastors. And in May of this year I was accepted as an accreditee for ministry.
For me accreditation had often been an unattainable, desired outcome because I didn’t have a paid position (which was a prerequisite at the time).  So it had fallen off my to do list. However my church required me to attain accreditation when they called me as a Pastor. And what I imagined would be an arduous exercise, jumping through hoops, turned out to be a really positive and life changing experience.
Through the process my abilities and giftings were affirmed and I was encouraged to consider how to use and develop these further. Which has lead my husband and I to look into new opportunities and we have recently accepted a position to Co-Pastor Shellharbour City Baptist Church beginning next year.
Throughout my training and experiences I am grateful to those women who have modelled strong leadership and discipled me towards increasing intimacy with Jesus. My hope is that I too can encourage and advocate for women to eagerly step into who God has created them to be and exercise their gifts with confidence.
Jennifer Trevena

Jennifer Trevena

Accredited in 2019

It was just a few weeks ago I was accredited as a Baptist pastor. It was an incredible moment that I will never forget in my life. My emotion was mixed with great joy and a sense of awe of God because I recalled the journey of study, ministry and family for the past 8 years. There were so many things that challenged me while I was juggling between these three roles. I always felt that I was exceeding the limit of my abilities to be occupied in full for many years. One thing I could think of was that “God led me and His faithfulness and grace put me on the stage on that day.” I started to study when my daughter was four years old and I was a single parent. I imagine I’m a bit of a special case as an ordained/accredited pastor, a single parent, first generation immigrant with English as a second language. I am also the first Korean  ordained/accredited woman pastor in the Baptist Churches of NSW & ACT.

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.

Amy Shum

Amy Shum

Accreditation Candidate

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

Resource Hub

The Baptist Recorder Issue 98 (April 2007)

Stories from the First Women Ordinands

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.

For the Women Who Are Called (revised October 19)
By Amy Shum

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.