The 2nd Assemblies of God (A/G) National Women in Ministry (WIM) Conference held at the Central Assemblies of God in Springfield, Missouri, ended on March 12 but the impact of the event on women’s role in ministry deserves a deeper look.
The Christian Post was able to talk to Dr. Beth Grant, chairperson of the Women in Ministry Task Force and keynote speaker for the event.
Grant named three reasons why the WIM conference was relevant in defining women’s role in the church.
“It underscored the biblical basis for women in ministry has held by the Assemblies of God from its inception,” explained Grant, who has also served at Southern Asia as a missionary for 26 years.
Secondly, “it encouraged and equipped women to utilize their God-given gifts to enrich the church and minister to their world,” said Grant.
The third accomplishment of the conference was “it recognized the diversity of women’s roles in both traditional and non-traditional ministries."
The conference, which lasted from March 10 to 12, was only the second conference of its kind. Grant said the difference between the first and second conferences is the theme.
“The first conference in 2001 focused on the rich heritage of women in ministry in the Assemblies of God while this second conference was very much focused on womens’ roles in ministry in our contemporary 21st century world,” began Grant.
She continued to compare the two by saying this year’s conference, which was themed "Called, Connected, Contemporary", “addressed the need for women to engage the complex realities of today’s world with God’s timeless transforming truths. Our call to ministry is classic, but it must be lived out in a “now” world!”
On a side note, Grant mentioned the first conference took place before the 9/11-tragedy, which brought political and economic change. The second one, however, was “an interesting mix of faith and courage regarding God’s desire to change lives in our world, and sober reality regarding the challenging contexts in which we have a responsibility to minister His love.”
Among the 900 registrants, the call to ministry rang loud and clear to some women who were either already involved in ministry or had spent their life doing ministry and were now retired ministers and missionaries. The call to others was yet to be fully realized.
Grant said the task force strived “to involve women from all generations, including college-age young women who have a passion for ministry but as yet do not know what that will look like.”
However, some 100 registered college students were able to receive guidance from listening to “generations of women” sharing their passion in ministry.
During the conference, Grant gave a lecture on the event’s theme based on the life of Queen Esther.
“Recognizing that God has indeed called women to diverse ministries ‘for such a time as this’ (Esther 4:14), the sermon had three points of intent,” said Grant.
“First, like Esther, it is important for women to recognize and utilize their current God-given ‘platforms’. They may include a lectern, a stage, the printed page, an inner city street, a corporate boardroom or the kitchen table with our teenage children in dialogue.”
Grant said women can use their platform influence others.
“Second, like Esther, we have the choice of whether we will use our platform to proclaim a personal message, a political message or a prophetic eternal message. The first two have their place, but the third is potentially eternal and life-transforming.
To make a message most effective, Grant advised women in her third point to not cling onto destructive sentiment.
“Finally, the sermon was a charge for women to let go of the ‘stuff’ of life and ministry that undermines the strength and integrity of our message. As women we experience things in life and relationships that if not dealt with leave a residue of resentment, bitterness, jealousy and even hatred. We can choose to deal with the ‘stuff’ and move on or harbor it for years. This issue is critical, because what we do with the ‘stuff’ colors our message as women in ministry. If we live with resentment and bitterness, it can ultimately become the theme of our platform. Our message is conflicted. On the other hand if we practice forgiveness as a lifestyle, we can minister Christ’s message of love and forgiveness with integrity. How different history would have been if Christ’s final words on the cross (His final human platform) had been, ‘Father, how could Peter have betrayed me after all I did for him??’ Thankfully for us, Christ’s final words were, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.’”
Participants also had the choice of listening to a selection of 30 workshops on an array of topics including: Authenticity in following Jesus, Ministerial ethics for women, Perils of power, Post-modernism 101, Pushing back the darkness: dealing with depression, and Mobilizing women to intercessory prayer.
Other memorable parts of the conference women enjoyed were “the sense of God’s presence and time for prayerful response and powerful times of worship led by diverse musical artists,” listed Grant. She added that being able to laugh together at themselves as women who tend to take life too serious was also plus for the event.
The national conference attracted women from numerous Bible colleges including: Assemblies of God theological Seminary, Springfield, MO.; Evangel University, Springfield, MO.; Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA.; North Central University, Minneapolis, MN; Southwestern AG University, Waxahachie, TX.; Northwest College, Kirkland, WA; and Vanguard University, Irvine, CA.
According to Grant, within the next few months the task force will begin to plan the next conference, which may be held on a regional level in the future since their “ goal is to see as many women be able to participate as possible nationally.”
Not only did she help plan the WIM conference, Grant also reaped the benefits. Having worked alongside her husband David Grant in Southern Asian countries such as India, Grant said she had witnessed “horrendous issues in our world such as the trafficking of girls and women in forced prostitution.”
However, she believes through the women God has called, there is always hope.
She said, “I am more convinced than ever of the need for women to strategically live out their faith in Christ in addressing global concerns. Lives can be changed, but we as women must use the platforms God has given us to speak a message of His love and power into the darkest corners of our 21st century world.”
Resources and information about the conference is expected to be update on the WIM website by April. Visit the site for more information: http://www.womeninministry.ag.org