SBC Life Articles

Task Force Studies Role of Women in the SBC

Women’s Ministry Advisory Council

Rhonda Kelley leads the Women’s Ministry Advisory Council, appointed by SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page, in discussion during its January 7–8 meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. Ken Weathersby, EC vice president for Convention advancement, facilitated the meeting. Photos by Roger S. Oldham.

Frank S. Page believed the best way to better understand the perspectives of women in Southern Baptist churches was to start a conversation.

Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, has appointed a Women’s Ministry Advisory Council to gather and share information about perspectives and strategies women in Southern Baptist churches bring to our common task of reaching our nation and the nations with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

While the SBC has always valued the worth of women and followed the biblical guidelines for female roles in the church, there is a sincere desire to increase the involvement of Southern Baptist women in biblically appropriate ways at all levels of the Convention and to provide the support services to maximize their service.

According to LifeWay Research, women comprise about 52 percent of church congregations. Historically, women have often been the majority in church attendance as well as service.

The task force of eighteen ladies from fourteen states represents different age groups, stages of life, ethnic backgrounds, and ministry positions. Their work began with a two-day meeting in Atlanta on January 7–8, 2016, and will continue for the next year.

The meeting of the SBC Women’s Advisory Council was convened by Ken Weathersby, EC vice president for Convention advancement. The group was welcomed by Page who briefly discussed the work of the Convention and the purpose of the council.

Rhonda Kelley, president’s wife at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a leader in women’s ministry, facilitated the meeting as chairwoman of the Women’s Ministry Advisory Council.

Specific questions were discussed by all members of the group during the three sessions of the meeting:

  • What ministries, training, and resources are provided for women in the SBC?
  • What evangelistic methods and resources are effective in reaching women with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
  • What additional support is needed by the women of the SBC?
  • What recommendations in women’s ministry should we make to the SBC Executive Committee for consideration in the future?

In order to gather representative information from across the SBC, the Women’s Ministry Advisory Council would like to hear from women in the churches. A brief survey may be completed online: www.surveymonkey.com/r/SouthernBaptistWomen. In addition, comments may be emailed to: [email protected]. Input from women across the Convention is essential for the task force to complete its important assignment.

A report will be presented to Page at the conclusion of the advisory group’s work. It will likely contain specific recommendations about ways to increase participation of Southern Baptist women serving through their churches and in Convention life.

Chris Adams, LifeWay’s senior lead women’s ministry specialist, expressed the sentiments of the Women’s Ministry Advisory Council: “Many women in Southern Baptist churches do not feel valued as leaders though they want to make a Kingdom difference. The fact that the SBC Executive Committee has asked about women in our churches is huge. Thank you for affirming the value of women and encouraging the use of our spiritual gifts in ministry!”

Rhonda Harrington Kelley is president’s wife and adjunct professor of women’s ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is a member of First Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Women’s Ministry Advisory Council

Women’s Ministry Advisory Council members attending the January 7–8 meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. Seated (left to right): Chris Adams, Rhonda Kelley, Rhonda Rhea, Ana Melendez; standing (left to right), Jacqueline (Jacki) Anderson, Brandi Biesiadecki, Lourdes Fernandez, Elizabeth Luter, Trillia Newbell, Davee Ly, Candi Finch, Tabitha Barnette, Frank S. Page, and Ashley Unzicker.

Women’s Ministry Advisory Council Members:

Rhonda Kelley, chairwoman; Adjunct Professor Of Women’s Ministry, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; member of First Baptist Church, New Orleans, Louisiana

Chris Adams, Senior Lead Women’s Ministry Specialist; member of Long Hollow Baptist Church, Hendersonville, Tennessee

Jacqueline (Jacki) Anderson, Pastor’s Wife, Women In Ministry Director, Executive Assistant; member of Colonial Baptist Church, Randallstown, Maryland

Tabitha Barnette, Pastor’s Wife, Speaker; member of Peace Baptist Church, Decatur, Georgia

Brandi Biesiadecki, Pastor’s Wife, Writer, Speaker, Women’s Minister; member of First Baptist Church, Bartlesville, Oklahoma

Linda Cooper, WMU President; member of Forest Park Baptist Church, Bowling Green, Kentucky

Lourdes Fernandez, Lawyer; member of Riverside Baptist Church, Miami, Florida

Candi Finch, Professor Of Theology In Women’s Studies, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; member of Hope Church, Fort Worth, Texas

Ann Iorg, Seminary President’s Wife; member of First Baptist Church, San Francisco, California

Elizabeth Luter, Pastor’s Wife, Women’s Ministries Director; member of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, New Orleans, Louisiana

Davee Ly, Pastor’s Wife, School Teacher, Speaker, Sunday School Director; member of First Hmong Baptist Church, Morganton, North Carolina

Ana Melendez, Hispanic State Women’s Consultant; member of Iglesia Cristo Es Rey, Bolingbrook, Illinois

Mary Mohler, Seminary President’s Wife; member of Third Avenue Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky

Trillia Newbell, Director Of Community Outreach, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; member of Redemption City Church, Franklin, Tennessee

Rhonda Rhea, Pastor’s Wife, Columnist, Speaker; member of First Baptist Church, Troy, Missouri

Myra Sermon, Registered Nurse, Nursing Consultant, Sunday School Teacher; member of Grace Filipino Church, Woodbridge, Virginia

Ashley Unzicker, Church History Songwriter, Rapper, Seminary Student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; member of The Summit Church, Durham, North Carolina

Angela Um, Pastor’s Wife, Founder/CEO of Boston Academic Consulting Group; member of Antioch Baptist Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts

    About the Author

  • Rhonda Harrington Kelley