DALLAS (BP) — Southwestern Theological Seminary hosted its fourth annual Tea at 3 on June 11 for women within the Southern Baptist Convention.
Several hundred women of all ages were served hot tea, scones and chocolate pastries along with a set of free books.
Terri Stovall, Southwestern’s dean of women’s programs, led the event with guest speakers Melissa Meredith, Kelley King, Rhonda Kelley, Ginny Whitten, Ann Iorg, Sandy Wisdom-Martin and Katie McCoy.
Each speaker was accorded three minutes for a three-point presentation on a certain topic related to women in the SBC.
Melissa Meredith, Horner Homemaking House director for Southwestern, spoke on the best ideas for building a community with women through hospitality:
— Gather each generation together in one place.
— Invest in a few and open up your home to pray and fellowship with those.
— Make hospitality a way of life.
As an example of gathering generations together in her own church, Meredith said, “We separated tables with women of all ages, all gathered together to hear God’s Word, and through that little mission, our community grew.”
Meredith encouraged women to invite their lost friends and gather as a community.
“They need to see examples of people who love Jesus,” she said. “They need your godly presence and ultimately your words.”
Kelly King, women’s ministry specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources, spoke on the top three things happening at LifeWay Women: LifeWay stores’ offering various workshops and everyday hospitality; online Bible studies to watch and experience with other women; and LifeWay Leadership courses.
Rhonda Kelley, wife of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Chuck Kelley, offered insight into the best things about being a woman in the SBC.
“We are blessed today to have many opportunities and organizations connecting with us and networking with us to grow our walks with Christ and to use our spiritual gifts and abilities to further the Kingdom,” Kelley said. “With six seminaries around the country, they are providing training courses in different ways to be a part of missions and ministry.”
Kelley also listed three ways women can better the SBC: volunteering; spreading the word about opportunities and organizations; and being aware of what is offered.
Ginny Whitten, pastor’s wife at Idlewild Baptist Church near Tampa, Fla., gave three “M” tips on how to thrive, not just survive, as a pastor’s wife.
“You’re not going to fit into anybody else’s shoes, so just be yourself,” Whitten said. “I’m actually still working on me. God gave me the gift of service and I’m using that in not just serving my church but also serving people.”
She noted her second M is being a mom, keeping your children in church, while the third M is a healthy marriage.
“Through hospitality, keep your house tidy so that you can bring others into your home for fellowship,” Whitten said. “We live in a fishbowl and ministry is challenging, but it’s worth it.”
Ann Iorg, wife of Gateway Seminary President Jeff Iorg, spoke on the best ideas for involving children in ministry.
In a society that is “all about ‘me,'” Iorg said it is important to “involve our children in the church at a young age. Raise your children to think of others and not just themselves.”
Iorg said children of all ages, even preschoolers, can be involved in ministry opportunities by passing out bulletins, greeting people as they come into church, serving food, packing school supplies for children in need, and sharing the Gospel with their friends and bringing them to Christ.
“I remember when we went on our first mission trip as a family, and although there were some things that the younger children couldn’t participate in, we also did a Backyard Bible Club where all of the children could participate,” Iorg said.
In her own experience, Iorg said it has been a blessing to see her children and her church grow together.
“When you’re thinking about ministry with your children, just keep three things in mind as you’re planning: One, is it a safe activity for kids; second, is it simple enough for a child to do; and three, have someone supervise your child along the way.”
Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director of Woman’s Missionary Union, prepared points to talk about the best things happening at WMU, but came with news of missionaries in need of prayer. She used her three minutes to pray for missionaries trying to get 250 children to Johannesburg amid terrorist killings in South Africa.
Katie McCoy, assistant professor of theology in women’s studies and editor of biblicalwomen.com for Southwestern Seminary, spoke on the best things about women’s theological education.
There is something for everyone, McCoy noted, “no matter where you are or what your ministry goal is.”