Updated: Jul 26
A Beautiful Beginning
On a sunny and chilly Saturday morning in Dallas, 48 women and men gathered at Royal Lane Baptist Church for the first TXBWIM area conference of 2023. (If you weren't able to attend this one, don't worry! There are two more coming to the state of Texas this year! Click on the Events tab for more details.) We had the chance to grab a coffee, doctor it to our liking with creamer and sweetener, grab a breakfast pastry and visit with those who had also chosen to come early.
At 9 am, we walked the breezy outdoor corridor from the Fellowship Hall to the Sanctuary where Linda Wilkerson ushered us to the front "so we can all be closer together for worship." She knows that Baptists often like the back row when given the option. But I am here to tell you that no one wanted to be on the back row for this worship experience.
Our time began with Linda welcoming each of us and then giving me (Jill Hudson) space to tell a bit about my journey and how excited I am to be the new coordinator of TXBWIM. (And I am really excited!)
I opened us in prayer and then Tiffany McClain and Judy Phariss Collins excited our ears with a flute and piano duet! Absolutely stunning and delightful to enjoy!
Then, Victoria Robb Powers, the new pastor of Royal Lane Baptist Church
preached a powerful sermon on the Canaanite woman that just knocked
all of our socks off. It was then that I knew for certain that the day was set to be an inspiring experience for us all.
Stories of Prophetic Work
After morning worship, we had the chance to listen to three women discuss their journeys of finding their prophetic voices. Moderated by Nataly Mora Sorenson, we listened as each woman told us stories of their upbringing, calling, roadblocks, and triumphs as they found their voices to proclaim the good news. Debbie Solis, lifelong resident of west Dallas and advocate for her community through Voice of Hope, spurred us on to do even the small things that God calls us to with great love.
Anyra Cano, Outreach and Programs Director of Fellowship Southwest, related finding her prophetic voice to her experience as a daughter, sister, wife, and mother. Danielle Ayers, Minister of Justice at Friendship-West Baptist Church, encouraged us to use our prophetic voices courageously even in the face of opposition.
Academics of Prophesy
After a short break, we heard from four academicians who equipped us for our own prophetic journeys with books to read along the way. Jaime Clark-Soles, professor of New Testament at Perkins School of Theology, presented African American Readings of Paul: Reception, Resistance, and Transformation by Lisa M. Bowens and Voices Long Silenced by Joy A. Schroeder and Marion Ann Taylor. I would be remiss if I did not also take this moment to recommend Jaime's own book Interpretation: Women in the Bible as a book you should also have for your library. I made sure that my library had a copy of it that day.
Three of Jaime's students at Perkins - Kenna Curry, Tori Jones, and Melanie Beller - also presented books that have guided the development of their prophetic voices and can hopefully guide yours as well. We will have those up on the website ASAP.
The Prophetic Voices of Women Making History
We also had an historic moment occur at the Dallas Area Conference! We had the only head female pastor of a Baptist church in Dallas and the only head female pastor of a Baptist church in Fort Worth both in attendance! I am so thankful for both Reverend Darlene Dudley of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church of Forth Worth and Reverend Victoria Robb Powers of Royal Lane Baptist Church of Dallas being in attendance at our conference that focused on the prophetic voice of women. It could not have been more fitting! Our prayers and excitement are with you both as you pastor your congregations and minister to the communities of the DFW area. We are thankful that you said, "YES!" to the call of God on both of your lives. Thanks be to God!
After all of the scheduled activities for the morning, we broke for a boxed lunch and in a stroke of divine inspiration, Linda Wilkerson invited each of us to share who we were, where we currently served, and anything else we felt led to share. Some shared how they came to attend the conference. A few students told of what they were studying and where they hoped to be serving in the near future. Some attendees told of a time when they were told they were not allowed to be in a certain ministry position because of being female. And others told of the impact the day had already produced on their life and their future thoughts.
This discussion ran long and was a holy, Spirit-filled moment. We didn't have time in our day for the afternoon songs and communion that had been planned, but we were unfazed by the disruption to our plans. We sang a verse of Amazing Grace and were sent forth in peace with a blessing from Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace in believing so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Amen, sisters and brothers. Amen.