It is with great joy that I accept this new role as the convener of Qara, the women in ministry and mission fellowship of the Church of God. Women in ministry is a part of the Church of God’s DNA. Women were among our earliest pioneers. Some of the most outstanding preachers and leaders are women. Women serving in pastoral leadership is a part of my personal DNA; I am blessed to be the daughter, granddaughter, and sister to incredibly gifted women of God.
Qara continues the tradition of earlier leaders, Juanita Leonard and Susie Stanley, to seek and advance the cause of women in ministry by providing support, fellowship, information, and inspiration for those answering the call. We are so grateful to MaryAnn Hawkins and Randee Doe who carried the mantle until they transitioned into other areas of ministry.
During the 2017 Church of God Women’s Convention, we formed a taskforce and invited clergy women to participate. We surveyed and sought advice from women and men across the movement regarding this area of ministry. We do not want to just maintain and keep the status quo. The decline of women in pastoral leadership has been significant. Currently 23% of ordained clergy are women, while only 2% serve as senior pastor. My dear sisters, our focus will not be on the negative statistics but on the call to “Arise and shine for our light has come.”
For several years, I have carried this burden and quietly asked God what He would have me to do. Serving in the role as executive director of Christian Women Connection and as an ordained woman, I could sense that I was about to face a shift in ministry. I never imagined that it would come through the role as a convener; I only imagined working in concert with Qara and other like-minded women and men to address the need for a more dynamic ministry. A ministry that would help provide resources to equip women to flourish and thrive, to discover the call, to cultivate their gifts and find their individual voice, to be confident in their preparedness, and to address the well-being of their soul in ministry.
Today, we feel a fresh wind blowing in the life of women called; we seek to rise to that challenge. In the next few months, you will hear more as we relaunch and reinvigorate this host of women ready for service: women of all ages, nationalities, giftedness, and purpose.
So, what have we done thus far, and what can you expect in the near future.
Since 2017, the taskforce, facilitated by Rachel Nelson, provided a wealth of data and recommendations for areas of needs. The feedback included coaching/mentoring, building leadership skills, networking and developing relationships, and assessing contemporary challenges to leadership in a male dominated society and issues related to sexuality.
We have been blessed by the partnerships and relationships of Church of God Ministries, Anderson School of Theology, and Christian Women Connection to provide funding. We, however, recognize if we are to move forward, we need additional resources. In October 2018, CWC created a volunteer position on staff to focus primarily on women in ministry. We are grateful for the work of Darlene McGough, who has helped to identify possible grants available to assist in this area.
Church of God Ministries introduced Life Givers, an online ministry to the church for those wanting to increase their knowledge or skill for life and ministry. This new resource has exceeded expectations and allowed us to introduce a Women in Ministry class led by Mary Stephens. We look forward to expanding our offerings through this partnership. Let us hear from you! What courses would prove helpful in your journey?
We invite you to join us June 27-30 at the Church of God convention in Orlando, FL. Christian Women Connection will host a luncheon; during that event, we will launch the expanded ministry vision for clergy women in the Church of God. You don’t want to miss this gathering! We will celebrate the past while dreaming for the future. This will also be a time for a more intimate fellowship with Lori Salierno-Maldonado, our guest speaker for this worship service. Tickets are $25.
During the Church of God Women’s Convention, October 10-13 in Myrtle Beach, SC, we will offer a Clergy Women’s Track. We instituted this track in 2017; the feedback was affirming and requested that we provide more. Please join us for this powerful, spirit-filled gathering of women from around the world. Registration is $150.
We continue to value our relationship and partnership as members of the Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy. Please join us March 12-15, 2020 in Ridgecrest, NC.
We truly believe that God is doing a ‘new thing,’ and we want to join Him. We are already praying, dreaming, and planning for the future. In 2020, we will provide programming and other avenues of networking for clergy women. As the Church of God returns to its format of regional convention every other year, expect to hear of the new things happening during those meetings.
I never imagined that my prayer, “Lord, what would you have me do,” would lead to this dual role. However, now as I reflect back on my journey, I realize I was being equipped for this time. I recognize that my days as executive director for Christian Women Connection are fewer than those behind me; however, my time as a woman being called and used by God is still before me. Dear sisters, join me on this journey, “For the glory of the Lord has risen upon us.”
Rev. Dr. Arnetta McNeese Bailey
Convener of Qara - Women in Ministry
Executive Director - Christian Women Connection