PHOENIX (BP) — Women gathered for the third annual Tea at 3 for personal connections, equipping and encouragement ahead of the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix.
The free event, at the Sheraton Grand June 12, was hosted by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and open to all women. Ministry partners donated key resources for each woman attending, including a stack of books for ministry and spiritual enrichment.
Dorothy Patterson, wife of Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson and professor of theology in women’s studies at the seminary, said her goal is to “touch women who don’t get included in some other things” and to give them good resources.
“We have been surprised at the popularity of this event and feel that we have found a niche of ministering to women who might be overlooked because of the cost factor or simply not having a large block of time,” Patterson told Baptist Press. “We are done within one hour.”
Terri Stovall, dean of women’s programs at Southwestern, said they “specifically wanted to reach women who may be serving in small places, hard places, places that are tight on the budget, that just need to come and enjoy a cup of tea with a friend.”
The program was organized in a series of three-minute connection points from women’s ministry leaders Rhonda Harringon Kelley, Ann Iorg, Kelly King, Clara Molina and Janet Wicker.
Kelley, wife of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Chuck Kelley and adjunct professor of women’s ministry at the seminary, spoke on new and upcoming resources from the Women’s Evangelical Library, published by B&H Publishing Group.
“What an amazing experience it is for each of us as Christians to have that relationship with the Lord to be able to open His Word, for His Spirit to speak to us and give us those opportunities for ‘aha’ moments when He connects the dots with His truth and our lives,” Kelley said.
“It’s our prayer that you’ll use some of these resources you’re given today and other resources to better understand and live His Word in your life each day.”
Ann Iorg, wife of Gateway Seminary President Jeff Iorg and an expert on preschoolers, spoke on creative communication with preschoolers. She said to “remember that mealtime, bath time and car rides are very good times to connect with your preschooler because they will engage in a little bit longer conversation when they are contained in a high chair, a tub or a car seat.”
Iorg added, “Communicating, as you know, is very important for every relationship. So if you want your preschooler to know that you care about them, communicate early and often and in a way they will understand.”
Kelly King, LifeWay Christian Resources’ women’s ministry specialist, spoke on predictions for the future of women’s ministry. She said women of all ages, but especially older women, are seeking out deeper theological training, and women increasingly are being asked to join the leadership table.
“This does not mean that we are replacing our biblical model of who we are to be as women, but we are being asked more and more to lead and are being asked our opinions and how we fit into the bigger role of the local church,” King said.
Clara Molina, author and wife of Bruno Molina of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, spoke on key resources for Hispanic women and churches. To reach Hispanic women, Molina urged women at Tea at 3 to minister to Hispanic families.
“Teach their families. It is one of the most important things. The other one is teach the Word, not fluff,” Molina said. “Hispanic women like to learn God’s Word, and it’s important. And also teach their children. That’s the most important thing. Minister to their families. If you minister to their families, you get them.”
Janet Wicker, wife of Hayes Wicker, pastor of First Baptist Church in Naples, Fla., spoke on how to read Christian authors with a discerning heart.
“If you’re going to read with discernment you’ve got to develop the ability to separate truth from error, to separate good from evil, because that’s part of discernment for the believing woman,” Wicker said.
Wicker gave each woman a bookmark with five principles to help them read with a discerning heart: Pray, stay grounded in truth, listen purposefully, ask good questions and consult those you trust.