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Barbara Carpenter

BarbaraCarpenter
Growing up in an Anglican Church the thought of being a minister never entered my head.  I vividly remember though, in my teens, encountering a woman URC Minister and being deeply impacted both by what she said and by who she was.  About this time, I began to attend a Baptist church, and very soon found my spiritual home there.  I got married, had children and became involved in church leadership.  I began to be involved with the ministry of retreats and spiritual direction.  I first heard the call to ministry while I was on an individually-guided retreat.  I was convinced this was a ridiculous idea, but my retreat guide encouraged
me to hear and take this call seriously, exploring it further on my return home.   This I did.  My minister laughed when I told him, so I gladly put the idea away.

However… God thought differently…  the call grew stronger and some years later I had to face up to and properly explore it.

I think the biggest obstacle I had to overcome was my own sense of inadequacy and unworthiness – who was I to even think that I could do this? (I still climb over this obstacle on a fairly regular basis!)  Other people put obstacles in my way… doubts about my abilities, concerns for the welfare of my children, the fact that I was a woman, being just a few.  However, as I faced these each time God affirmed, confirmed and strengthened his call on my life.  I have learned God is faithful, and that the saying ‘where God calls, he equips’ is true – I am called to trust and follow, not have it all neatly sewn up.

I would want to encourage younger women to have faith in the God who has faith in them.  I think also I would want to encourage them to be themselves; one of the things I was most ‘hung up’ on when I was exploring my call was my ability to preach – I couldn’t do it like the person I most regularly heard (a man).  I was encouraged by a wise, experienced woman minister to find my own voice, to recognise that, as a woman, I probably wouldn’t preach like a man, or even another woman, and nor should I try.  God has given me a unique way to tell and share his story and build his church, and that’s what I need to do, and is much of what, to my amazement, I do day by day here in my ministry at Lee Abbey.   

I have few words to describe what I feel about one of my daughters (Abby Lintern) being the student pastor of a church.  I’m not sure she’s following in my footsteps exactly, as I recognised her call before I knew my own, but it is such a joy to see her responding to that call and to see how God is using her mightily in the work of his kingdom.  
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First black woman to become an accredited Baptist minister in our Union
Team chaplain at Milton Keynes University Hospital
Minister of Portrack Baptist Church, Stockton on Tees
A Regional Minister with the South Wales Baptist Association. She was minister of Chatsworth Baptist Church in West Norwood, London from 1990-2007.
Minister of Stapleton Baptist Church in Bristol
An undergraduate and Minister in Training at Regent’s Park College, Oxford, on placement at New Road Baptist Church
     100 years of women in Baptist ministry 
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