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SBC Digest: Conference equips women in ministry; Liberty changes leadership structure

State conventions, entities collaborate to equip women in ministry

By Rebecca Manry

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. 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.

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.

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.”

Liberty trustees approve new leadership model

By BP Staff

LYNCHBURG, Va. (BP) – In meetings Oct. 29-30 on the school’s campus, Liberty University’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted to recreate its leadership model by hiring both a president as well as a chancellor to be the university’s spiritual leader and to ensure it is faithful to its Christian mission. Previously, both roles were filled by one person, most recently Jerry Falwell Jr. who resigned in August amid scandal.

The board named 10 trustees to a search committee tasked with filling both positions. The Search Committee will also assemble an advisory committee that will consist of representation from students, faculty and alumni. The process for filling the positions is expected to take more than a year and will not begin in earnest until the board approves processes and job descriptions in a future meeting.

The trustees also endorsed all remaining speakers scheduled for the university’s convocation program for the fall semester. At the request of interim university President Jerry Prevo, the board agreed that its Spiritual Mission Committee would partner with David Nasser, senior vice president of the Office of Spiritual Development, to give advice and approval regarding all convocation speakers for the spring semester.

The committee and university will ensure that religious speakers are in sync with the school’s doctrinal statement and communicate that the university does not endorse viewpoints that are inconsistent with that statement, even though such views might be provided a platform for academic purposes. Convocation, a twice-a-week live program, features speakers from all walks of life, such as business, sports, politics, missions and entertainment. The program has been offered solely online thus far this academic year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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  • BP Staff