State convention, entities collaborate to equip women in ministry

November 8, 2020

The OneDay.OneFocus Conference, held online Oct. 29, sought to equip and encourage all women in ministry.

The conference came out of a desire for state convention women’s ministry leaders to share knowledge and resources to continue the work of training women, said Carmen Halsey, a leadership development director at the Illinois Baptist State Association. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as each state was facing reduced budgets and decisions about whether to cancel events or move them online, the leaders decided to come together to put on an online training event.

“We knew our responsibility is to train women. We can’t not do our jobs,” she said.

The result was content with wide application that could be promoted and contextualized according to each state’s needs.

“There’s no way any of us could have brought what was delivered in OneDay.OneFocus. None of us could have put that together and delivered it ourselves in our own states. It was such a blessing,” Halsey said.

The conference began with worship led by Emily Rhyder, worship director at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh. Susie Hawkins taught on the conference’s theme passage, Ephesians 4:1-16, about building blocks of unity.

“Our unity empowers us; our unity gives credibility to the message of the gospel,” Hawkins said.

Susie Hawkins spoke from Ephesians 4:1-16 during the main session of One Day. One Focus.

After the initial main session, attendees could choose from several breakout session options. Sessions included topics such as as leadership skills and character, spiritual disciplines, facing fears and emotions, responding to sexual abuse, practical ministry tips, missions panels and more.

During short breaks, attendees could socialize via the event platform’s chat feature or visit the conference’s virtual exhibitors. The conference concluded with a time of corporate prayer.

“It just shows that there’s a need for the fellowship, there’s a need for that equipping and training, just to be reminded that we’re not alone.”

There were 1,025 registrants representing 37 states and 24 countries, including 183 IMB missionaries who were given complimentary registrations.

“It just shows that there’s a need for the fellowship, there’s a need for that equipping and training, just to be reminded that we’re not alone,” Halsey said.

State conventions, national SBC entities and WMU were not just represented at the conference, but were true partners, Halsey said. Leaders from each, as well as IMB and NAMB missionaries, led breakout sessions and were available as exhibitors to speak with attendees.

The collaboration among women’s ministry leaders was meaningful for the organizers as well, Halsey said. She loved seeing the diversity of their roles – while they all had the shared goal of training women leaders. How that was expressed in each state varied.

“The work [of planning the conference] gave state leaders the chance to come together. … We got to [virtually] sit around the table and listen to each other and hear each other,” she said.

Ashley Allen, who leads the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Embrace Women’s Evangelism and Discipleship ministry, said she was thankful to be part of the event.

“Throughout the planning process for the OneDay.OneFocus training, our planning team recognized there are many gifted and equipped women’s ministry leaders across the Southern Baptist Convention who serve in a variety of capacities,” Allen said. “It was a great joy for our ministry to be a part of providing a setting that allowed the ladies of North Carolina to learn from these leaders in a virtual setting that turned out to be a blessing of not being able to gather together for training.”

Allen added that many from North Carolina benefited from the virtual conference.

“North Carolina ladies learned from women’s ministry consultants from other state conventions, IMB missionaries, NAMB church planting wives, and women’s ministry coordinators from our SBC seminaries,” Allen said. “The opportunity afforded the ladies of North Carolina to worship and learn alongside missionaries that joined us from Peru, Cambodia, France, Mozambique, Hungary and a host of other nations as truly the part of Christ’s Bride that identifies as the Southern Baptist Convention was able to come together and exemplify Paul’s words to the church in Ephesians 4.”

Halsey wants all women to realize their influence, embrace it, trust God with it and use it to advance the kingdom.

“Women’s leadership in the church isn’t contained in any one title anymore,” she said. “And women integrate throughout all leadership roles in the church. … We wanted to offer a message of inclusion, not exclusion: You belong here.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published by Baptist Press.


by Baptist Press

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