The Modern Magnificat: Women Responding to the Call of God
Edited by Jennifer Harris Dault
For many women, the call to ministry is particularly challenging. Those of us raised in the Baptist tradition were often taught that God simply doesn’t call women-but only men-to the ministry. And yet, the Spirit continues blowing where she will, dancing around both women and men, inviting all to join in service. What is a woman to do when she hears that call? How is she to remain faithful to what she was taught, while remaining faithful to the voice of God?
The Modern Magnificat is an attempt to chronicle the journey of calling. In its pages, you will find the stories of twenty-three Baptist women who heard God’s call. These women are from a variety of backgrounds, spanning Baptist life. You will find Southern Baptists, Cooperative Baptists, American Baptists, Missionary Baptists, Alliance of Baptists, and others. There are women who are committed to being life-long Baptists. There are women who find their identity in the Baptist church, but have found places of service among the Disciples of Christ, United Methodists, and Mennonites. There are women who are not sure if they will be able to remain Baptist.
The mark of a disciple of Jesus is a willingness to go wherever you are called. These stories of women answering God’s call to ministry powerfully personalize theology debates that detail what women can and cannot do. The one thing a disciple, regardless of gender, dare not do is ignore the call of God.
—Ed Cyzewski, author of Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus and Coffeehouse Theology
Rev. Jennifer Harris Dault has offered us a gift in sharing the sacred stories of women called to ministry. From dramatic clarion calls to insistent and incessant yearnings of the soul, these poignant stories give witness to the diverse and distinct ways in which God calls and the amazing array of gifts God pours out on women from all walks of life. After reading these stories no argument is needed or defense required for women called to ministry. It is abundantly clear that God calls women to ministry and God gifts women for ministerial leadership.
—Patricia Hernandez, Director of American Baptist Women in Ministry and Transition Ministries for ABCUSA, Baptist Women in Ministry (American Baptist Churches USA).
The Modern Magnificat has accomplished an important task: putting human faces on an important theological issue. I remember when I was first confronted with the question of whether or not women could serve in all facets of leadership within the church. After studying the relevant biblical texts in their historical context and seeking God in prayer, I became completely convinced that women should be liberated for all forms of ministry! As a youth pastor (at the time), I wanted to create an environment where teen girls and boys could discern the Spirit’s call into any role within the church. To do the opposite actually works against the potential impact of the Kingdom. So, I implore you; listen to Ali, Jamie, Heather, Katrina, Peggy, and all of the other remarkable stories about a God who declares that both our “sons and daughters shall prophesy!”
—Kurt Willems – Anabaptist writer, speaker, & church planter (KurtWillems.com)
In the 21st century, when we take for granted the integration of women in all areas of our common life, it is vital to hear the stories of women called into ministry. Harris Dault has given us a window into the particular challenges that Baptist women face. These stories reveal the power of call, the passion to follow Jesus, and the willingness to continually break new ground in often hard and rocky soil. These stories are a must read for women and men who want to transform the church into a more welcoming and affirming place for those called into its service.
—Robin Lunn – Executive Director, The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists & ordained minister
Jennifer Harris Dault has assembled a collection of eye-opening, life-changing, thought-provoking stories of women called to ministry. These are convincing testimonies that answering God affirmatively, following Jesus faithfully, and yielding to the Spirit completely do not guarantee easy paths. Their journeys include steep hills, deep valleys, sharp curves, and rough terrain, but the collective witness of these pages should persuade readers that ministry is a noble call that is worth the effort. Priesthood of ALL Believers is a gift of honest and transparent narratives that stir emotions and invite respect for the wisdom, grace, and grit they portray.
—David Goatley, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Society
Life is lived and remembered in stories. Stories have formed our personalities, influenced our decisions, and shaped our faith. For ministers, calling cannot be understood apart from the greater story and the individual stories. As a lover of stories, I am grateful to Jennifer Harris Dault for collecting call stories from twenty-two Baptist women ministers, who write beautifully of their formation as Christians, their experience of calling, and their adventures in living out that calling. They are stories of struggle, disbelief, pain, and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but they are also stories of joy and delight in the hearing and following of God’s call. Each story was a reminder for me that God does indeed call, gift, and grace Baptist women for the work of ministry.
—Pam Durso, Executive Director, Baptist Women in Ministry, Atlanta, Georgia
About the Editor
Jennifer Harris Dault is a church administrator, freelance writer, and supply preacher living in St. Louis, Missouri. She lives with her husband, Allyn, and their two cats, Sassy and Cleo. She currently enjoys expressing her faith as a Baptist working in a Methodist church while worshipping with a Mennonite congregation. Read more from Jennifer at her blog.