On Saturday 1st July around fifty women from London Baptist Churches gathered at The King's Cross Baptist Church for a day to celebrate and inspire female leaders.
The day was led by the London Baptists Women’s Justice group, which is part of the association’s Justice Hub.
The Women’s Justice Group has been exploring how to help women leaders to thrive in London Baptist Churches. Whilst London Baptists are committed to women being enabled in all positions of leadership, it is, as is the Baptist way, the local church that has a particular role in enabling and empowering women in leadership. Throughout London there are many women serving as leaders in Baptist churches and if they are not accredited ministers or training to be one, they are not always seen, celebrated or have access to the information and opportunities to grow as leaders because they are not as connected to the bigger Baptist family. The aim of this day was to create space for women leaders to gather, and those who attended included worship leader, deacons, elders, youth leaders, ministers, pastors and core leaders in our churches.
The theme of the day was being called as you are. Rev Ellen Wild, minister and team leader at Chichester Baptist Church, unpacked what that might mean for each one of us. She reflected on the story of Moses’ calling and how God calls our true selves to come out of hiding. Moses’ calling was coherent with who he was. The best thing that we can bring to leadership is our whole selves – the good and the bad bits.
Ellen reflected on her own experience and calling in the twentieth year since her ordination, on how people had struggled with her as a leader as a woman, not because they were in disagreement with women in ministry, but because of unconscious bias. She talked about how she has been working to change the narrative and how that has enabled her (and those who follow) to flourish in ministry.
She went on to say that God calls us to become more than we can yet see. Our expectations of ourselves often hold us back, but God is with us and he can write us into stories that we don’t expect we can be a part of yet. When you are free to be who you are it removes competition. We can be secure in who we are because God is in us and is transforming us – we never stop growing in Him.
Surrounding what Ellen brought to the day were stories of women in different forms of ministry – those who were called young, those who were called despite, those who never expected to end up where they are. There were reflections on how to balance family life and ministry and what it looks like to work full time and pastor a church. After lunch and time to reflect and pray, the room got the chance to question a panel which included the LondonBaptist Regional Team Leader, on issues affecting women leaders and how Baptist churches in London can enable and encourage women in leadership. Worship was led by a gifted team of female worship leaders from Kings Cross Baptist Church and the whole day was a positive and encouraging experience leaving attendees asking, “what next?”.