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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Baptist Women In Ministry (BWIM) Celebrates 25 Years

In its 25th year, Baptist Women in Ministry (BWIM) will be celebrating its historic anniversary during the General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship which is meeting in Memphis. BWIM’s Annual Gathering and 25th Anniversary Celebration Dinner will be held on Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 5pm with music from Kate Campbell. For information about this event and tickets, click here.

Here’s a snippet from BWIM’s “The State of Women in Baptist Life – 2007.” If you’re interested in a brief history of BWIM and the plight of ordained women in Baptist life from the time of Addie Davis’s ordination in 1964 to 2007, be sure to read this new report (here).

Baptist Women in Ministry (BWIM) in 2008 celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary. Since the 1983 founding of BWIM, the status of women in Baptist life has been through many changes. In some seasons, it has flourished. In other seasons, women’s status in Baptist life has seemed to languish on the vine. In the past twenty-five years, Baptist women have made modest gains in leadership and contributed to the renewal of Baptist life in many sectors. Most notably, Baptist women (and men) committed to the equality of all God’s people have helped reshape and reenvision the church generally, and Baptist churches in particular, as more inclusive, more creative places of worship, spiritual formation, and service.

Baptist women have not made these contributions without struggle. In the last quarter century, they have face opposition, difficulties, and challenges, both from detractors who do not share their vision for ministry and church, and at times, from within their own ranks. Challenges have been numerous and sometimes overwhelming to the organization and to individual women in ministry.

And here are a few notable statistics from that report:

  • Following the 1964 ordination of Addie Davis, no other woman was ordained until 1971
  • Between 1971 and 1978 an estimated 59 women were ordained by Southern Baptist churches
  • By 1986, 232 ordained Southern Baptist women had been identified
  • By 1993, it was estimated that over 1,000 women had been ordained
  • According to the BWIM Registry, around 2000 Baptist women in the South have been ordained since 1964.
  • 85 women were ordained in 2005, 49 ordained in 2006 and this past year 73 women were ordained.
  • The largest number of ordinations took place in Georgia (18), North Carolina (15), Tennessee (13), and Virginia (4). Oh yea, 11 women were ordained in Texas.
  • In most years over the past two decades, ordinations in North Carolina. North Carolina is home to three moderate Baptist seminaries. Because of Mercer’s McAfee School of Theology, Georgia has been at the top of this list in recent years.
  • In 1982, women accounted for 10.8% of elected boards of SBC Agencies.
  • In 2007, that number was 10.5%.
  • # of Women on Governing Boards: Alliance of Baptists (45%), BGCT Exec. Board (24%), CBF Coordinating Council (38.5%), SBC Executive Committee (8%).
  • # of women endorsed as Chaplains & Counselors: AB (77 or 52%), BGCT (66 or 15%), CBF (178 or 30%), SBC (215 or 8%)
  • By 1993 (ten years after founding of BWIM), 51 women were serving as pastors or co-pastors
  • In 2007 that number had increased to 113 – 75 as pastors and 38 as co-pastors.
  • As of 2007, Virginia led the way with 18 women pastors or co-pastors. North Carolina was second with 17, Georgia has 13, Texas has 11 and Tennessee with 6 women pastors or co-pastors.
  • Of the 5,600 churches that affiliate with the BGCT only .196% are have a female pastor or co-pastor and only 5.9% of CBF churches have a female pastor.
  • In 2005, women accounted for around 21.7% of the student bodies as SBC seminaries (virtually no increase between 1979-2005). 4 of these seminaries have programs designed especially for women. Despite these programs, the numbers of women students enrolled in and graduating from SBC seminaries has dropped in the past 25 years.
  • With 2,145 students in 14 seminaries, theology schools and Baptist studies programs affiliated with CBF, 825 or 38.5% were women. 40.4% of Spring 2007 graduates at these schools were women.
  • Among the CBF affiliated schools with the highest percentage of female students: Emory (53%), McAfee (52%), BTSR (52%) and Wake Forest (50 %).
  • The most female students can be found at Mercer’s McAfee (124) and Baylor’s Truett (118).
  • Women make up 25.5% of the total faculty teaching in these schools.

In the next couple of days, www.thebigdaddyweave.com will be hosting a few reflections from a young Baptist woman (read: Alexis) who attended both of the BGCT’s inaugural conferences on Baptist Women in Ministry.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet another student that the once great baptist college Baylor has lead astray.

11:38 AM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Thanks for signing your name.

12:25 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Excellent. Alexis, I'll look forward to it. I'm proud that FBC Austin has ordained at least 4 young women in the time that I've been there, and I am proud to be part of a faith tradition that honors God's call in the lives of everyone, regardless of gender.

9:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


How do you deal with the explicit passages in 1 Timothy that say the pastorate is only for men?

7:07 PM

Blogger Alexis said...

Anonymous, we will get to that soon. have no fear. But I'll leave you with this: How do you deal with passages further on in Timothy about slavery?

1 Timothy 6:1-3 All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them. These are the things you are to teach and urge on them.

1:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for not answering the question at all. Let me know when you have the ability to answer a question rather then deflect it. You odviously have no idea that slavery in the Bible is FAR different then what you know as slavery today.

5:55 AM

Blogger D.R. said...


Anon is right that the slavery during Biblical times was far more different than that for which the Civil War was fought or against which William Wilberforce battled in Britain.

Still, that doesn't answer how Paul could justifiably have made statements about there being no difference in worth between all men and women in Galatians and yet disqualifying women for senior authority and teaching positions within the home and church in 1 Timothy.

Traditionally the Evangelical response is that we do not view the worth of the individual on the basis of their position within the home or church, which is clearly in line with Jesus' teachings about the equality of all men regardless of position.

However, Egalitarians flip this idea on its head and claim just the opposite, which is that men and women within the home and church are DEFINED by their position. Thus if one is denied authority or the ability to teach, then they are worth less. I just can't see a more abhorrant idea in relation to the NT than that - namely that one's worth is DEFINED or AFFECTED by their ability to hold a position within the church or home.

As for 1 Timothy, I think it says volumes about Paul's beliefs when he can clearly declare to Timothy not to allow women a position of authority or teaching in the Church and then also affirm the complete and total worthiness of all men and women before God.

I also think in examining 1 Timothy, Paul sees women as having an equally valid, but unique task in managing the home and in raising the children, which is clearly what Paul wants to see women focus on, for the purpose of defeating Satan (a task that can never be judged too small).

Maybe then Complimentarians have been right all along and do hold to a more Biblical position - and one that is more consistent with Christ than do Egalitarians who find their worth in status and calling.

12:36 PM

Anonymous K.Moore said...

Slavery may be "different" in different eras and in different cultures--but it still involves one or more humans having ownership or inflexible authority over another person or group of persons. It still involves ultimate denial of personal liberty. Paul's words speaking of submission to one's master was about how those in slavery could live in grace, not a justification of slavery itself.

I've heard all the arguments against women serving equally in ministry ad nauseum and I have just resigned myself to an "east is east and west is west, and never the twain shall meet" way of thinking about it. Most of the people I know who disagree with me do so without hostility or accusing me of apostasy, or being "led astray." Those who react as "anonymous" have reveal an underlying misogyny, or at the very least fear of women--not just a theological difference of opinion.

Paul was a man of his time and seems to express the opinions about women, their "place" in society and gender role differences of many, if not most, first century Jewish males (with the exception of Christ). The argument that women being restricted to home management and child-rearing is not a deprivation of equality doesn't really ring true either. More and more women are not marrying, and not having children--some by choice, and some of us are physically unable to bear children. So if the restriction is truly about married women and mothers in order to protect their ability to focus on those responsibilities--what about women who are not otherwise "burdened" with these responsibilities. To argue that Paul's prohibition is applicable to ALL women, even those without husbands and/or children is to suggest that the prohibition is then truly about gender--not just our "equal but separate" roles.

K. Moore
Aurora, Colorado

6:36 PM

Blogger D.R. said...


It is about gender, you're right. Paul merely assumes that women would be married. And he has clearly addressed this in 1 Corinthians, calling them to marry if indeed they burn with the desire for companionship.

But, notice he makes no exception for this in his letter to Timothy. Had he meant for only married women to be restricted from senior positions of authority and teaching, he surely would have noted that.

Additionally, had he been influenced even marginally by the culture, why then would he make a strictly theological argument for why women should not take on teaching authority in v.13? Take note of Paul's reasoning:

v.12 - But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

v. 13 answers the question, "WHY?"

v.13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.

This is an argument from the order of creation - not even close to a cultural concern. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, argues that men are called to the authority roles on the basis of God's creative design, even BEFORE the fall. But Paul is not done yet.

v.14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

Now, Paul argues a second reason why women shouldn't teach in the Church, because of their willingness to be deceived like Eve was. So now, you have an argument from creation BEFORE the Fall, and an argument made because of the Fall by Paul. I am not sure how he could have been any clearer that this teaching is not based on culture, but rather on theological concerns.

Finally, Paul gives women an admonition:

v.15 But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

What the heck does Paul mean here? That women must have children to be saved ("preserved" in the NASB)? NO! Andreas Kostenberger has an outstanding answer to this. Here is a link to that article. Basically, he claims that "saved" doesn't mean in the spiritual sense, brilliantly showing how Paul almost always uses the word "sozo", translated here "preserved," to mean something other than spiritual salvation. And in 1 Timothy, he uses it to refer to being kept from the deception of Satan.

Kostenberger goes on to explain how "preserved (or saved) through childbirth" is shorthand for what Paul says in 1 Timothy 5:14-15, namely "keeping house", a term that referred to all duties taken about by women in the home, including, but not limited solely to childbearing. Thus his argument, and consequently Paul's, is that women can be kept from the deception of Satan (unlike Eve, who fell), by means of tending to the arena to which God gave them dominion and blessed them with gifts to be a caretaker of, which is the Home.

I think that is an amazing admonition and one that is clearly in line with God's words to Eve after the Fall in Genesis 3. And it should bring freedom to women! Freedom to focus on what will ultimately bring them the most joy! Satan's greatest tactic over the years with women has been to distract them from the joy they can have in the home and by making them to feel inadequate and less worthy if they do not do the same work as men in the home and church, even if it means that what they are doing are basically good works. Thus, Paul's words here are so very important and should be both a relief and a balm for all women who worship Christ.

And my prayer is that all Christian women would be challenged by this and stop assuming that either Paul or the Biblical writers, or the Holy Spirit who inspired them, or we who teach this Biblical doctrine, in any way mean to demean or harm women. On the contrary, we love women enough to try to be honest with the text, to seek to query the text, Church history, and the Holy Spirit, and to teach what we believe is in accordance with the clear teachings of Scripture and is the same word that the Holy Spirit has illuminated to the Churches for 2000 years now.

I hope you too will see the same thing K.

10:36 AM


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