This year's annual meeting featured a panel discussion encouraging women across the state to continue in their callings and ministries. Read the story below to hear more about this special event.

Women’s ministry leaders from across North Carolina encouraged other women in their callings as part of a special women in ministry panel discussion and luncheon held during this year’s Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s annual meeting.

The panel featured five women’s ministry leaders who are serving in various ministry roles in N.C. Baptist churches. Panelists said there are numerous opportunities to serve in the local church and encouraged attendees to be open and available to serve.

“When we’re just willing to be available, God opens all kinds of doors for us to obey and serve,” said Donna Navey, executive director for You and Titus 2 Ministries. 

Navey added that there is no lack of opportunities to serve in the local church. She described ministry as a broad umbrella and there is so much to be done, women just have to be ready for service. 

Janetta Oni, creative arts director and worship leader at The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, said women in ministry often get caught up focusing on the thing that they cannot do, while ignoring all the opportunities the Lord has given them.

Oni shared an analogy from the story found in Genesis 3 of Eve encountering Satan in the Garden of Eden. Satan tempted Eve by saying, “Did God really say that you couldn’t eat of any tree in the garden?” While in actuality God said they could eat of every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 

Through that questioning, Satan drew Eve’s focus on the one thing she couldn’t have instead of the many other things she could. Oni compared women in ministry to Eve in this situation. 

“The enemy would have us believe if you can’t have that tree, then you can’t have anything,” Oni said. “But ministry is just saying yes to the trees in front of you.” 

Amy Whitfield, executive director of communications at The Summit Church, shared about a time when she received some harsh words related to serving in ministry. Instead of internalizing those words and letting them stop her in her calling, Whitfield said she had to remind herself of her calling and her true purpose in serving the Lord. 

“There’s something in faithfulness, just putting one foot in front of the other and continuing to grow,” Whitfield said.

Whitfield said she was surprised at the amount of opportunities for her that abounded in the local church, and she reassured attendees that there were similar opportunities for them should they seek to serve the Lord. 

“Be encouraged that if you’re gifted in a variety of ways, there is a place for you,” Whitfield said, “Also, be preparing your heart now, be humble before the Lord now because ministry is hard in a broken world, but God is faithful.” 

Meredith Snoddy, missions and communications director at Green Street Baptist Church in High Point, shared that recently she was mentoring a young woman who wanted to lead worship, but felt discouraged in her ability to get that position because she was a woman. 

Snoddy walked her through some Scripture, reminding her to be prayerful and obedient to what God was calling her regardless if she got that one position she desired.

“God is a God who sees, and God sees her, but God can also do anything,” Snoddy said. “You know, you may not get to pay your bills with a worship leader salary, but you can still lead worship.”

Panel moderator Missie Branch, who serves as vice president of community engagement for Life Collective, Inc., said no matter the role, ministry flows from spending time with Jesus in the Bible. Branch noted that when we fill ourselves with the Word of God, it spills out onto others.

“Ministry has to be pulled from a deep well, and that well has to be Jesus Christ,” Branch said.

After the panel concluded, N.C. Baptist Executive Director-Treasurer Todd Unzicker addressed attendees by thanking them for their service and building them up in their calling to ministry. 

“You are not alone,” Unzicker said. “You not only have a voice, you are gifted, and you have a Baptist organization that wants to champion you all along the way.”