April 5, 2012 | 12:58 p.m.
By Alennah Westlund '14
In March, Bethel Seminary’s Student Senate invited faculty, staff, and students to a meal and conversation with four lead pastors, all women, to discuss topics of identity, leadership, relationships, and preaching. The pastors included Anne Vining, senior pastor at First Covenant Church, St. Paul; Jan Bros, lead pastor at Abbey Way Covenant Church; Laurel Bunker, Bethel University dean of campus ministries and campus pastor; and Nicole Bullock, lead pastor of Blue Oaks Covenant Church. Stephanie Kay Williams, a seminary student who was involved in the planning of the event and also moderated the discussion, says she invited these particular women “…because they are known to our community as strong women of God who lead with integrity.”
The women shared what it is like to lead a team of both men and women, and discussed how to lead people to become deeper followers of Christ. “Some of the advice was very practical,” Williams notes, “and spoke to the everyday matters that a leader faces; other advice was full of wisdom and could be applied in many situations.”
The information was both informative and emotional. “They talked about some of the hard realities that you face in trying to stay focused on your identity in Christ when you are a leader,” Williams says. “The women were very vulnerable about their lives and shared their stories with authenticity.” They continued with openness when discussing relationships in their personal lives, including their marriages and close friendships. They were realistic about how important it is to “be faithful as a pastor, but also as a friend, wife and mother.”
More 90 people attended, including 35 from the outside community, and 15 students from Bethel’s Antioch Way, an undergraduate program for students who are exploring a call to pastoral ministry. Both men and women who attended the event attested that they found the information applicable to their lives and their ministries, and were challenged by the wisdom and leadership these women possessed. According to Williams, many women in particular felt the presentation resonated with them, saying that “…they felt known and inspired by the words shared by these strong lead pastors.”