COLUMBUS, Ohio (BP) — The first “Tea at 3” drew women of all ages, representing missions and ministry organizations, seminaries and churches from across the convention. The turnout has those who attended and helped organize this year’s event already talking about 2016.
Dorothy Patterson, wife of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Paige Patterson, said she was “overwhelmed by the response of Southern Baptist women” to the afternoon tea event hosted by the seminary. The tea was held June 15, in conjunction with this year’s Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting.
“I am more convinced than ever that woman-to-woman connections are the most important thing we have in Southern Baptist life,” said Patterson, who also serves as professor of theology in women’s studies at SWBTS.
Women arrived early and lined up outside the door before the tea began. Once inside, the standing-room-only crowd filled the room at the Hyatt Regency hotel to share tea, scones and fellowship.
Robin Walker, a messenger from Briensburg Baptist Church in Benton, Ky., said she enjoyed the event and would like to attend again next year in St. Louis, where the SBC annual meeting will be held. Patterson confirmed the seminary does plan to host the tea in 2016.
“I thought it was really great,” Walker said. “I liked just hearing the speakers and getting the resources and just fellowshipping with new friends.”
Nine publishers contributed to the resource giveaways, sending women home with books geared toward womanhood and women’s ministry.
Kristy Carr, adult resource team leader for Woman’s Missionary Union and a representative of New Hope Publishers — one of three lines of business that supports the ministry of WMU — said she enjoyed helping contribute resources to the event on behalf of the WMU and speaking during one of the three-minute “connection points.”
“I was very, very thankful to be a part of it,” Carr said. “It seems to be a great connection for women.”
Also among those offering three-minute connection points were Candi Finch, SWBTS assistant professor of theology in women’s studies; Rhonda Kelley, author and wife of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary president Chuck Kelley; Ann Iorg, wife of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary president Jeff Iorg; Chris Adams, LifeWay senior lead women’s ministry specialist; Susie Hawkins, author and wife of GuideStone Financial Resources president O.S. Hawkins; and Christine Hoover, church planting wife and author.
The connection points touched on a variety of topics from personal study and education to serving as a minister’s wife, and the challenges and rewards of serving on the mission field.
At the end of each woman’s three minutes, SWBTS dean of women’s programs Terri Stovall asked a final summary question, allowing each speaker to offer a fast tidbit of information to attendees.
Finch, who talked about the importance of being a life-long learner, told women how to have “the best quiet time.”
“The best quiet time to have,” Finch said, “is the one you actually have.”
She said women cannot expect to pour into others without letting the Word of God pour into them first.
Kelley, who served as managing editor of The Women’s Study Bible, published in 1995 by Thomas Nelson, touted the importance of Scripture as her number one teaching tip. Before consulting what mankind says about a topic or a passage, she said, women first should consult Scripture itself.
Carr said the best way to teach children the importance of missions is to model it.
“Whatever you put as a priority in your life is what you’re instilling in them,” Carr said.
Shannon Baker, a member of North Arundel Church in Glen Burnie, Md., said she, too, enjoyed the new event.
“I loved it. I really liked how quick the pace was and how they gave great information about each one of the different areas,” said Baker, director of communications for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. “I really loved that capstone question at the end of each talk, because it really did summarize everything, and it was something we could walk out of the room with and apply to our lives.”
Baker said she would recommend the tea to women who might consider attending next year.
“Definitely come if you can, and come early,” Baker said. “Just come and enjoy the fellowship with other women, because we don’t get that often.”