We celebrated Martha Stearns Marshall Preaching Day this past Sunday. Martha Stearns Marshall was an 18th century pioneer of female preachers. Today, Baptist Women in Ministry (BWIM) encourage churches to invite women preachers to fill the pulpit during one Sunday in February to honor Martha Stearns Marshall and affirm God’s continual calling of women to ministry.
The biblical story is carried on the shoulders of gifted and Spirit-led women. Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, Rachel, Jochebed, Miriam, Rahab, Ruth, Deborah, Bathsheba, Mary, Elizabeth, Martha, Priscilla, Lois and so many more – named and unnamed – insured that the story of God continued in their world. My life has been enriched and my faith shaped by Nina, Betty, Sylvia, Molly, Catherine, Dorothy, Tina, Joy, Mary – women who served as my ministers, Sunday School teachers, choir directors, spiritual directors, professors and friends.
In the past several months, First Baptist Greenville has ordained three women to the gospel ministry: Sally Sarratt, Maria Swearingen and Kathy Sharp. In recent weeks we’ve heard Sally and Maria preach. In April, Kathy will preach for our Cuba Mission Team reflection service. Daily we enjoy the ministries of: Kendra, Becky, Vivian, Mary Carol, Juli, Laura, Pam, Peggy, Gail, Jenna, Sylvia, Kendall, Dewanda, Jennifer, Kathy, Kimberly, Rosemary, Mittie, Carol, Priscilla, Jeanie and…(I can’t name everyone, but you get the picture.) They are part of a long line of women ministers from FBG whose gifts have been affirmed and enjoyed by our congregation.
I received a phone call this morning from a fellow Baptist who was not pleased with our acceptance of female proclaimers of the gospel. He ended his semirant with the comment, “I guess you all have one of those ‘women’s days’ at your church. I paused for a moment…then responded, “I’m pretty sure every day is women’s day at our church.” He hung up. I smiled.