Women in Ministry: Sisterhood

Adele Henderson has received a lot of support and affirmation in her ministry - and now she wants to pass this gift along to her sisters. 

I am a G.R.I.T. What’s a G.R.I.T? A Girl Raised In The South. I am also Baptist. The first 20 years of my life I was a Southern Baptist and for 20 years now a Cooperative Baptist. What I have come to realize at the age of 40 is that I did not have your typical Southern Baptist upbringing. See, in Raleigh, NC I grew up in a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) where we had women deacons and a female music minister. I never heard that a woman’s place was in the home or teaching in a Sunday school class. I heard Foreign Missionaries, who were women, talk about the work they did and the support they needed. I saw my mom active in the lay ministry of the church and both girls and guys preaching on Youth Sunday. What I heard growing up was that God wanted a relationship with me and was affirmed by my church when I responded to the call to Theological Education. As a result I never thought about the need for support from fellow women in ministry.

During my time at Campbell Divinity School, 1998 – 2002, I went to my first NC Baptist Women in Ministry (NCBWIM) event. I can’t tell you much about it because the only thing I remember was it being in Greensboro, NC and I got to see my former Campus Minister. Looking back I never saw the importance of me being involved in NCBWIM. Don’t get me wrong, I have heard the stories from fellow classmates and ministers of rejection and shaming all because they were women and were responding to the call of God. But in my narrow-mindedness I didn’t or couldn’t see my role in advocating and speaking out in favor of women in all forms of Christian Ministry, including the pulpit. After graduation in 2002 God continued to bless me through a church in Tarboro, NC where the pastor provided me multiple opportunities to preach from the pulpit. And when I interviewed for my current job I was asked questions that centered around my philosophy around Christian ministry, my education and experience not about my gender or being single. I was and am respected as a minister.

As they always say, hindsight is 20/20 and I have changed and what changed was my first Virginia Baptist Women in Ministry (VABWIM) event in April of this year. I must first make a confession that I was not planning to go until my Supervisor at work said to me if I wanted to go that it would be covered under my budget. But what happened in 24 hours in Richmond, VA on April 19 – 20 took this narrow minded woman and opened her eyes, heart and mind wide opened. I felt the power of Sisterhood. I couldn’t relate to the stories shared at the breakfast on Saturday morning but in hearing those stories two things happened: God showed me how much I have been blessed as a woman in ministry and that my gifts of listening and pastoral support are not only useful in my work with at-risk youth but with my fellow sisters in ministry who have had to fight for every bit of recognition they deserve but have not always gotten. In being blessed I must and want to bless the sisterhood and work alongside them so that future girls can be welcomed and affirmed for their God given gifts and their role in preaching the Gospel. I am grateful for my new found role in the sisterhood. 

About Today's Contributor
Adele Henderson is an Ordained Baptist Minister and serves as Chaplain at HopeTree Family Services in Salem, VA. In her free time she enjoys photography and walking her dog Sophie.

About the Women in Ministry Series 
The Women in Ministry Series is a collection of guest posts that aims to provide an alternative to the women in ministry debates by telling the stories of women in ministry and encourage women to explore their God-given callings.

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Contact Katherine at katherinepershey[at]gmail.com to pitch your post idea in 2-4 sentences. You can stay updated on the latest post each week by signing up for the weekly e-mail list.

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