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Women’s leadership network convenes at Golden Gate

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–The rain could not keep 190 women from an event that only comes to Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary once every six years — a women’s leadership consultation sponsored by the Seminary Women’s Network.

Every February, the network, which includes women in leadership at all six Southern Baptist seminaries and the SBC’s various entities, meets at one of the seminaries. This year was Golden Gate’s turn.

Women’s ministry leaders, pastors’ wives, Bible study teachers and seminary students attended the Feb. 10 gathering at Golden Gate’s Mill Valley, Calif., campus, focusing on the theme “Pure Water in a Muddy World: Effective Ministry in a Confused Culture.”

Three keynote speakers and 14 workshop leaders offered a biblical foundation and practical tips for making a difference in the world.

General session speakers were

— Golden Gate President Jeff Iorg, who noted that “the Gospel is clear and it is pure.”

— Linda Clark, women’s ministry specialist with the California Southern Baptist Convention, who defined purity as being “untainted and undiluted.”

— Rhonda Kelley, wife of Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, who cautioned the women to “be on guard -– don’t ever take purity, righteousness or godly living for granted.”

— Ann Iorg, wife of Jeff Iorg and co-coordinator of the event, who said the consultation aim “is not about tea parties and decorations; it’s real ministry that can translate in principle into any culture anywhere.”

Alicia Wong, a 1999 Golden Gate graduate who served in East Asia for two years as a missionary, co-led a workshop on “Women’s Ministry for Postmodern Women.”

“Be relevant and authentic, but don’t ever sacrifice the truth,” Wong exhorted her audience. “You have to live out your faith in front of postmodern women.”

Wong is director of women’s programs at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. Trish Hawley, who led the workshop with Wong, is assistant professor of women and women’s ministry coordinator at New Orleans Seminary.

“We as Christian women need to think about and understand who we are as a culture, both positively and negatively,” Hawley said. “We need to ask ourselves: What does Jesus say about despair and uncertainty? And we need to think about how to minister to women who live in that.”

Wong’s goal for their seminar was to “help women change the way they think and strategize about reaching women in the world [as they] go back to their churches and do ministry differently.”

Many of the consultation’s participants came to do just that. Beth Patel, who directs the women’s ministry at Tiburon (California) Baptist Church, hoped to “take home ideas to inspire and encourage the women in our church.” Heather Henry, whose husband Brandon is a GGBTS student, wanted to “get more fired up about women’s ministry,” while Ticia Gorney desired to be “more equipped to minister alongside” her husband.

Franci Cupp, a student at GGBTS, added, “It’s a rare opportunity to worship with other women, and I didn’t want to miss out.”

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  • Taryn R. Hutchison