By Linda Waggener, assistant director of university communications
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Carolyn Blevins, noted Baptist historian and professor of religion, presented a lecture discussing women’s role in religion to a packed crowd in the Little Auditorium for Campbellsville University’s February Baptist Heritage Lecture recently.
In her presentation, she talked about women who have provided key leadership in raising funds for Baptist missions, in missions education, in nurturing and ministry and in missions involvement with numerous examples of Baptist women in missions and ministry through our nearly 400 years of history. From Ann Judson to Lottie Moon to Annie Armstrong and other Baptist women, Blevins explored the vital role that women have played in the work of the Baptist movement.
She also pointed out that while women follow the call, they are often discouraged from following the call all the way to ministry in the Baptist church.
Blevins explains in her writings, Baptist Theology and Women Baptist Women in Missions and Ministry, “Like other Protestants, Baptists agree with the apostle Peter and Martin Luther that individuals are directly responsible to God. No mediator is needed. Each believer has the right and the responsibility to be her own priest—going directly to God in prayer, being accountable to Him and responding to Him.
“On the basis of this teaching, a woman is responsible for how she responds to God with no permission needed from any other source. Yet, when a woman responds to the call of God to minister, she sometimes is told that God does not call women to preach,” Blevins said.
“The gap between Baptist doctrine and Baptist practice creates tension for some Baptist women,” she said.
“In recent years some young women considering ministerial careers among Baptists have determined that the gap was too great for them to bridge,” Blevins said.
“These women have chosen to leave the Baptist denomination for those denominations more hospitable to ministering women. Consequently, Baptists have lost some of their brightest and best-educated young women. The denomination that nurtured them, reared them and invested significantly in their training has great difficulty finding a place in its theology for women to exercise gifts of ministry,” she said.
“This is a big issue in Southern Baptist life and in Baptist life in general,” said the Rev. John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president at CU.
“The autonomy of the local church means that some Baptist churches ordain and/or employ women as ministers, while other Baptist churches adamantly denounce the practice as heresy,” he said.
“Baptist doctrine assures each church of that authority. Autonomy is a unique freedom that Baptists treasure,” Chowning said.
The mission of Campbellsville University’s Baptist Heritage Lecture Series is to promote the study, discussion and research of Baptist historical events, theological distinctives, traditions and leaders that are unique and essential to understanding who Baptists are.
For more information about the Baptist Heritage Lecture series contact Chowning at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (270) 789-5520.
Campbellsville University, now celebrating her Centennial year, is a private, comprehensive institution located in South Central Kentucky. Founded in 1906, Campbellsville University is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and has an enrollment of 2,310 students who represent 100 Kentucky counties, 32 states and 28 foreign nations. Listed in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” 14 consecutive years as one of the leading Southern master’s colleges and universities, Campbellsville University is located 82 miles southwest of Lexington, Ky., and 80 miles southeast of Louisville, Ky. Dr. Michael V. Carter is in his eighth year as president.