BRANDON, Miss. (BP) — Women & Work, a ministry launched this year with a panel at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, seeks to fill a void in Baptist life for women who want to contribute to the Kingdom by working in ministry, working from home or working in the secular world.
Courtney L. Moore, the ministry’s founder, is a stay-at-home mother of three and pastor’s wife in Brandon, Miss., and she explained that her personal journey is part of what led her to start Women & Work. She felt called to ministry in high school but didn’t know many women in full-time ministry.
“I didn’t even know what that would look like,” Moore told Baptist Press, “so my vision for what I would be as a woman in ministry was to marry some guy in ministry and serve with him. … I felt like if you’re going to be a biblical woman, what you have to do is get married, have kids and be a stay-at-home mom.”
That’s what Moore ended up doing, but not before she earned a religious studies degree from the University of Mobile and a biblical counseling degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and served two years with the International Mission Board.
“Even with that education, I just never saw myself working,” said Moore, whose husband Brent is an adult groups pastor for Pinelake Church.
About four years ago, Moore said, she “just kind of realized I’m made for more. As much as I loved the home and loved my children, I just knew this is not all for me.” She began looking for ways to use her skills and started writing part-time for her church.
Last year was Moore’s first time to attend an SBC annual meeting, and she went to various auxiliary events for women and realized there was “a group of women that are not being addressed and that really are not given a voice.”
She was inspired by Baptist21, a pastor-led network that provides a platform for younger pastors in the SBC, and she organized a panel discussion at this year’s annual meeting for the group she found underrepresented — women who work.
Panelists for “Women & Work: Stepping into Kingdom Productivity” were Amy Whitfield of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kelly King and Mary Wiley of LifeWay Christian Resources and Lauren McAfee of Hobby Lobby Stores. Moore estimated close to 125 women attended the Tuesday night event.
“I thought it was wonderful. I was so pleased with the turnout,” Moore said. “… It seems like Southern Baptist, conservative, complementarian women want to know how their faith can be integrated into their work. We just want to provide resources for them and encourage them.”
Moore hopes to host the panel again next year, maybe adding women from secular jobs such as executives and doctors, she said. “I’m fascinated with how they view their work and how they integrate their faith in it, and how they are doing good for the world through their jobs.”
Another goal is to add content to the Women & Work blog explaining the theological aspect of work, Moore said. And she hopes to start a podcast to interview women in a variety of workplaces.
Moore underscored, though, the importance of work done in the home for the advance of the Kingdom. “Glory to God for stay-at-home moms,” she said. “… He is going to honor that, and it is going to make an eternal difference. It is work that remains. It is fruit that will not perish.”
There is more than one way to be a biblical woman, Moore said, whether it’s full-time work at home or full-time work outside the home. “We feel this pressure that we should be doing this or that. No matter where you come from you feel that.”
One of the reasons for starting Women & Work, Moore said, is to broaden the view of complementarianism.
“We affirm male leadership in the home and in the church. I’m not wanting to be a pastor. I’m not wanting to be an elder. But I’m wondering how much of our complementarianism — especially for women — is more of a cultural thing in terms of just the ideal of the June Cleaver sort of model,” Moore said.
“I just feel like there is a lot of equality, and women have not realized it. Maybe it was a reaction from the feminist movement. Maybe it’s like we’ve swung the pendulum so far and now let’s maybe pull it back toward the center,” Moore said. “And let’s have women thriving in some roles that maybe they were afraid to step into because maybe they were afraid, ‘I’m going to look like a feminist if I do this.'”
Women & Work is online at womenwork.net.