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Looking forward to our conference… 


Mary Taylor blogs ahead of the ‘Celebrating, Surviving and Thriving: Women in Baptist Ministry’ conference later this month 


Celebrating survivng and thriv

I am writing just under a month away from our conference for women, ‘Celebrating, Surviving and Thriving: Women in Baptist Ministry’. Nearly 40 women are booked to join the overnight gathering at IMC, Birmingham and they represent all ages and experiences, including an 8-month old baby (ok not really a minister!) and a veteran who joined the accredited list in 1969 – the 13th woman to be ordained by the Baptist Union. Although the contributor list has changed a bit since first planning, we are confident that we will receive quality teaching, enjoy supporting and praying for one another and worshipping the God who calls each and every one of us to unique service.
 
Since the conference was organised there have been widely publicised and international movements which have opened up questions of equality in society. These are the stories of sexual coercion, harassment and assault in settings as far apart as Hollywood and respected international aid agencies, which have been widely shared by the #MeToo movement and in other ways. This movement has been considered to trivialise gender relationships but has been a significant part of the story of protest in nations where sexual assault is endemic, violent and often unpunished.

Also, recently, publishing comparative data on wages brought equal pay, at the BBC particularly, but across the entire economic landscape, into the foreground of debate on how inequality is often entrenched through many individual decisions. All of these movements have brought both momentum and opposition to questions of gender equality. An interesting question to ask is why the backlash to these movements has been so fierce and the discourse frequently abusive in its own right?
 
In our Christian context, research published by the Sophia Network recorded that 62 per cent of women surveyed had experienced sexism in the church. Although trends in churches offer hope, the survey led them to publish and promote the Minding the Gap Manifesto #MindingtheGap2018 for churches, organisations and denominations to sign and action. Within our Baptist family this has been supported by the Fresh Streams Leadership Team who are encouraging all their partners to subscribe to the seven action points.

Against this background of both change and resistance, we pray that the conference in June will contribute positively but forthrightly to Baptist life, empowering and equipping women for ministry and encouraging both women and men to work together in partnership and full equality as we believe God intends.


Mary Taylor is a Regional Minister with the Yorkshire Baptist Association, and one of the organisers of the ‘Celebrating, surviving and thriving - Women in Baptist Ministry’ conference on 28-29 June - register here.  


Baptist Times, 04/06/2018
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