Women in Leadership
Ann Herbert (Citywide) explains what took place at the recent No Limits conference. Other attendees pictured above are Jenna Blackwell (City), Zahara Rehrmann (Summerhill), Tracey Avery (City), Jenny Baxter (Hobart), and Kez Hutchison (Wynyard).
Inspiring, challenging, thought-provoking, impactful!
These were some of the words 105 women used to describe the No Limits women’s symposium held in Brisbane on 10-11 February 2023. Not only that, there was awe-inspiring worship, and opportunities for great fellowship.
Baptist Women of the Pacific, which is part of the Baptist World Alliance, organised the conference with the intention of connecting, equipping, and mobilising women for Christian ministry across the Pacific region. They successfully did this with women attending from New Zealand including Māori, Tonga, PNG and Australia.
Six Tasmanian women, from Wynyard, Launceston and Hobart, enjoyed attending the conference together. The sessions explored what the Bible teaches about women, particularly with regard to their role, purpose, and potential to serve the Body of Christ and help grow God’s kingdom on earth.
The sessions explored what the Bible teaches about women, particularly with regard to their role, purpose, and potential to serve the Body of Christ and help grow God’s kingdom on earth.
Historical and cultural contexts
On the Friday night, Dr Christa McKirland, lecturer in Systematic Theology at Carey Baptist College in Auckland, noted the importance of understanding the historic and cultural contexts in which the books of the Bible were written. She also emphasised the importance of being careful not to interpret individual verses in isolation from the whole of the letter or book in which these are located. She especially encouraged in-depth study of gendered passages, which historically have caused controversy.
“God has given each of you a gift.Marg Mowczko
Use it to build up others in the Lord.”
Saturday morning began with some rousing worship, followed by theologian Margaret Mowczko, who has specialised in early Christian and Jewish studies. She spoke about the apostle Paul’s theology of ministry. In particular, she looked at Paul’s teaching about the mutuality of women and men in Christian marriage and ministry. She finished her presentation with the encouragement: “God has given each of you a gift. Use it to build up others in the Lord.”
Bible survey with a twist
Rev. Megan Powell du Toit, from the Australian College of Theology, provided a stimulating overview of the biblical story of God with women. Starting at Genesis, she explored how God sees and values woman, sees the pain sin has caused them, and how he acts to mitigate sin’s impact. From the matriarchs of Genesis and Exodus, through the female judges and prophets, Jesus’ foremothers, to the female leaders of the New Testament, Megan showed how God has continually used women to help achieve his purposes.
The stories show that God’s mission for the church includes women and that God releases their gifts for God’s glory. Rev. du Toit encouraged each of us to fully use our God-given gifts for the sake of the Gospel.
The final speaker, Rev. Sela Havili, shared her journey of becoming an Anglican priest who serves New Zealand’s Tongan communities. Hers was an inspiring story of the challenges she faces, and the blessings she is receiving, as God uses her to help build His kingdom amongst these people. She passionately encouraged us to be “women empowered by the Spirit to reveal the love of Christ.”
In addition to these four presentations, we enjoyed lively and stimulating panel discussions, plus inspiring presentations from five women about the local and global work they are doing across the Pacific region.
Responses to the No Limits women’s symposium
The conference encouraged me to learn and question things that I have just gone along with. And I was inspired by all those passionate women who have stepped into their calling. I want to encourage other women to go next time!
Tracey Avery, City Baptist
I found it so encouraging to see women empowered in utilising their gifts, strengths and calling from different nations. I want to emphasise that women just GO if there is another opportunity.
Jenna Blackwell, TB Leadership and Mentor Coach; TBW Team (North); Ministry Team Assistant City Baptist
Even though in the past I have always been very sceptical of women’s conferences, I loved having a women’s space to be sisters together. It was a time of theological depth and the relational authenticity, and it was inspiring. I loved hearing from my sisters across the South Pacific.
Dr Christa McKirland – conference speaker
Blessed with new birth
I was so encouraged to have the opportunity to take five stellar Tasmanian women to Brisbane to attend the No Limits women’s symposium. It made me aware we are blessed to have so many women in our midst who are willing to rise to the challenge, take a lead, and use their God-given gifts. They are the shoulders upon which others will now stand.
Jenny Baxter, State Director Tasmanian Baptist Women
While it was my dream as a leader in women’s ministry to see this event happen, I was still overwhelmed by the response. The need to speak justice into this area is even greater and devastating than I realised. There are new seeds to create an online community of support and similar events in other parts of Australia and the Pacific. Most overwhelming were the stories women shared in the breaks. There were stories of frustration, sadness and grief. Incredibly intelligent women, given amazing gifts, were being limited if not oppressed, my heart broke anew. I felt like God was birthing something new that day so we will pray and listen.
Elissa Macpherson, Conference Organiser and President, BWP; National Director, ABW
No Limits Women’s Symposium
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