Epiphany | Martha Stearns Marshall Month

CBTSScholastica2015(10of103)ERCR+1Martha Stearns Marshall Month*
Six Stages of Why You Should Invite a Woman to Preach

Why should you invite a woman to preach in your church during Martha Stearns Marshall Month, this February? Well, it depends on where your church is along the pathway of accepting women in ministry. Whether you are at the “Been-there-done-that!-Have-two-women-pastors-and-a-T-shirt-to-prove-it” stage or the “We’ve-heard-that-women-can-preach-but-oh-my-goodness-can-we-do-that?” stage, you should choose a Sunday in February and invite a woman to preach. Let me help you see what I mean. Here are six stages of why you should invite a woman to preach!

Stage 1: “We’ve-heard-that-women-can-preach-but-oh-my-goodness-can-we-do-that?” If you are at this early stage of accepting women as pastors and preachers, then it is high time you get more experience! Women do not bite. Although their preaching might have some teeth. So make your invitation today. You are in for a treat. You can do that!

Stage 2: “We’ll-probably-get-kicked-out-of-something-if-we-have-a-woman-preach.” If you are at this stage, it is time to take a risk. Perhaps getting kicked out of your association or state convention will be about as devastating as getting kicked out of the Book of the Month Club. It’s a loss you can handle, and you might have been in the wrong club anyway!

Stage 3: “Oh-yes-we-support-women!-We-heard-one-preach-here…Umm-two-years-ago?” Put your money where your mouth is. Support for women in ministry can’t be in word only! Invite a current member of your church or another woman to preach, and take her out to lunch. Give her an honorarium: at least the same amount you would give a male supply preacher! Don’t just talk about your support. Show it!

Stage 4: “But-we-have-women-on-staff-already!” Perfect. Ask one of them to preach in February. If it is not among her regular duties, this is an opportunity for her, and for you as a congregation, to stretch and grow. Participating in MSM Month will affirm the value of women’s leadership as well as this particular woman’s value to your church! If you and she are really sure that it is not her gift or desire, then invite another woman to preach! Need a name? Ask Baptist Women in Ministry, and they will help you find a woman near you!

Stage 5: “But-we-just-called-a-woman-to-be-our-pastor!” Great! And you might have MSM Month to thank as one of the many ways she found support for her call to ministry! Or perhaps MSM Month helped open up your congregation to be ready to call her as your pastor. Opening and widening the vocational pathway to ministry for more women is a great reason for churches – even those with female pastors – to observe MSM Month every year!

Stage 6: “Been-there-done-that!-Have-two-women-pastors-and-a-T-shirt-to-prove-it!” If you are this far down the path of accepting women’s preaching and pastoral leadership, then MSM Month is an even bigger gift for you! It gives you an opportunity to a) bring a seminary or a college student into your pulpit and expand your church’s teaching and encouraging role with the newly called; b) give your pastor a respite from weekly preaching while still enjoying worship with you; c) make a more prophetic and public stand for the sake of women in ministry; and d) build a culture of calling and support for women and men to engage in ministries of shared leadership.

Whatever stage you find yourself, Martha Stearns Marshall Month is for you! Now pull out that calendar… February is just around the corner!


* For more about the woman, Martha Stearns Marshall, click here. To learn more about MSM Month, click here.


Advent | Week 1


For Advent this year I’m taking up the invitation from the Anglican Communion to pray through the season with an #AdventWord each day and an accompanying photo or video. This post is the summary of Week 1 of Advent. Hoping….



11.29.30 The #AdventWord is #wakeup
I made this pic of the early morning fog from the megabus ride last week heading from AAR to East Tennessee for Thanksgiving. I was just barely awake at the time.

If you want to participate in the advent season through sharing themed photos, you can take a look here… http://aco.org/adventword



11.30.15 Today’s #AdventWord is #Proclaim.
My congregation – Glendale Baptist – does it oh so well. Yesterday I saw & heard proclamations of hope and longing, word and song, laughter and lament. All the best ways to open the season.
And besides that I love the liturgical blues.



12.01.15  The #AdventWord is #Give. Even on this grey and rainy day (4th in a row) these Bradford pear trees just keep giving, adding color to the morning, standing sentinel on the changing season.


12.02.15  The #AdventWord for today is #Forgive.
There is so much in life that needs forgiving and forgiveness … that which is personal and needs relational repair … And that which is corporate and needs restoration for systems of harm and injustice. Forgiveness is an everyday practice.

In my experience harms large and small are often a lack or failure of loving well enough. So I’ve chosen a video for today’s advent word.

If you’ll listen to Marketa Irglova all the way to the end you’ll here the beautiful mantra that ends the song ‘on my mind.’



12.03.15 The #AdventWord today is #Repent. It’s been on my mind all day. Hard to choose an image….
This broken heart from last summer reminds me of the emotional and embodied cost of lasting change born of repentance.



12.04.15  Today’s #AdventWord is #Worship. This pic is my first-Sunday-in-Advent Zentangle. Hope, peace, joy and love feel tenuous in our shared world at the moment. So we hold on to them like one would hold a small bird (as Parker Palmer says) – not too tightly lest we squeeze the life out of them, nor too loosely lest they fly away. God have mercy.


12.05.15  Today’s #AdventWord is #Believe. For me growing up believing was all. It was highly overrated. Didn’t really matter that you hated your Jewish neighbors or thought you’re Catholic family members were going to hell or used up the environment as if there were no tomorrow. All, A–L–L that mattered was that you could say you believed in Jesus as the only way of salvation. So simplistic.

What I believe and what I do and what I say and how I feel are related in very complex and sometimes incomprehensible ways. For advent we are invited to renew our belief in love. We’re invited to renew our feelings of love and our practice of love. And our inspiration for advent comes in the love of mothers and fathers and babies and the scandal of God’s love for inconsistent and messy human beings. Like me. And you.

Here is Mumford and Sons singing #Believe.


Ordinary Time – Praying for Faith Leaders


For everyone who needs to preach and pray publicly this weekend – from any faith perspective – and especially Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders, I’m praying with and for you and the tensions you hold as you …
… speak truth to power
… hold out lament and hope
… bear witness to the good and evil of humanity and of religion
… imagine how to lead in a world reeling in chaos and grief
… offer good news of love and peace in the face of doubt and despair
… pray.

Blessings for you as you speak, hold silence, sing, cry out, guide, sit in ashes, provoke, comfort, and shepherd your people.

#Beirut #Paris #Iraq #Syria

Wednesday Words for Writers ~ B


What usually comes to mind when you think of “writer’s block”? Is it the blank page or flashing cursor on the screen? The stories and words that won’t be fully formed in your mind? Or is it that elusive idea that seemed clear, yet now seems far away? It’s commonsense that writer’s block is a fear of writing itself. A blocked writer freezes up like a reluctant diver stuck at the top of the 30 meter platform or a spelunker unable to enter the cave. All wish to dive in, but they are paralyzed by fear. Blocked.

Recently I saw writer’s block in a whole new way. Neither writing nor the fear of writing are the true source of the blockade. Rather writing acts as a big overwhelming distraction. It stands in the way and keeps you from noticing something else. You’re not blocked from writing. But rather the writing blocks you from something else by distracting you!

What exactly might a big ole giant writing project distract you from? It distracts you and overwhelms you and prevents you from feeling whatever it is that your unconscious doesn’t want you to feel. In fact the unconscious is filled with everyday tensions, chronic anxieties, and ancient unresolved feelings of anger, rage, disappointment, sadness, disgust, as well as other socially questionable thoughts and feelings. The unconscious is like a prison guard determined not to let those reprobate feelings and beliefs out!

The writing itself – your book, poem, essay, or devotional — in sneaking fashion becomes part of the prison system, one of the jailers, that keeps your dangerous feelings hidden from you. “Hey look at me! I’m an impossible and daunting task!” says the writing. “Focus on me! See how I’m going to exhaust you and ruin your life, and you’ll forget all about those wayward feelings from your past.”

Many who read this won’t believe, but the ones who are willing to suspend their disbelief can try the following exercise. Julia Cameron, Naomi Goldberg, Robert Boice are wise writers about the writing process, and they each support this plan: try a brief, timed session of free-writing. Fifteen minutes will do. Don’t exceed 25. Don’t lift your pen from paper or fingers from keys. Go until your timer says stop.

Free writing with no restraints is like a secret underground tunnel that lets the blocked feelings and other bunk find their way out first… There will be shame and rage and sadness and longing. You’ll see old stories of your deep down blueprint about what you believe about yourself come pouring out. Eventually. These feelings and beliefs are the safety strategies from your infancy and childhood that keep masquerading as “helpful” even though you’re an adult now. And the threats perceived in your young life are no longer real, present or dangerous. These feelings and beliefs are mirrors of the major traumas and chronic disappointments of your early experience, and if you put your pen on paper and don’t hold back they will come flowing out in a flood of words and images, ideas and beliefs. And when they are all out laying there helpless on the paper they will no longer be as big or overwhelming.

They can’t distract or block you if you simply let them out.

And then – after several daily brief sessions of this kind of free writing – that big writing project will not look so big or overwhelming either. The big bad writing will no longer be the distraction that keeps you from feeling what you need to feel. The prisoners have escaped. The feelings are out.


The writing becomes possible because the writing no longer needs to be the jailer but instead can become a chaplain for your healing process. The writing becomes not only possible, but urgent, pulling you forward. It will flow not in perfection, but in situated possibility. And by sitting calmly and patiently for one brief session at a time, and giving the prisoners a way out through the end of your pen or your fingertips pressed to keys, you will find the liberation you’ve been seeking. And the stories and poems and essays and books you know are somewhere in you can be patiently invited into the world… Bit by bit, word by word or as Anne Lamott puts it “bird by bird” instead of block by block.

This post brought to you by the letter B.

Ordinary Time #KellyOnMyMind

Praying for Kelly Gissendaner
… and putting the prayers into action

Kelly Gissendaner and Jürgen Moltmann, 2011. Photo by Ann Borden, Emory University
Kelly Gissendaner and Jürgen Moltmann, 2011. Photo by Ann Borden, Emory University

The following six messages can be tweeted out in succession – each already has links and hashtags to advocate for Kelly’s life.

How can you help commute the death sentence of #KellyGissendaner? Put your prayers into action.
Here’s how in 5 tweets #kellyonmymind

#1 sign the petition
to ask  @GovernorDeal  to commute #KellyGissendaner’s sentence to life http://action.groundswell-mvmt.org/petitions/governor-deal-use-your-power-to-stop-the-execution-of-kelly-gissendaner #KellyOnMyMind

#2 Watch video
of Kelly’s children: Forgiving our mother was the best way to honor my father’s memory buff.ly/1V7513u #KellyOnMyMind

#3 Pray for #KellyGissendaner and @GovernorDeal and @GA_ParoleBoard & share your prayers w/your friends and followers  #KellyOnMyMind

#4 Watch & share
the video about 200+ women whose lives were changed by Kelly. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzBUz2JS7Jo #StruggleSisters  #KellyOnMyMind

#5 write
a kind & respectful tweet, email or letter: @GA_ParoleBoard & @GovernorDeal Ask them to commute Kelly’s sentence #KellyOnMyMind


Wednesday Words for Writers ~ A


Writing is often a solitary enterprise. Yet all kinds of connections are needed for writing to begin, to improve, to be published, and of course to be read.

In the early stages of writing one of the best things a writer can do is to talk about the ideas and problems of the writing as they are emerging. Sharing aloud helps solidify concepts and solve blockades. This means asking someone to listen and converse about the writing. Often at the midpoints of writing, thorny knots appear. When they do, I often ask myself: what is going on? Free-writing can really help me through. Yet occasionally, I just need someone to listen while I loosen the knot. And when I think I am finished, I still must ask for feedback to polish the writing so it shines with a bit more clarity.

All the way through the writing process, asking ourselves what is going on and asking others to help by listening are essential tasks. If you’re feeling stuck at any point in your writing process, look around for someone to listen, and then ask.

This post brought to you by the letter A.


Ordinary Time – An Evening of Prayer and Worship for Unity

Last night pastors, congregations, professors and students gathered from all around Nashville, Tennessee, to remember the nine men and women who were brutally murdered in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17 at Mother Emmanuel AME Church.

Unity Service | July 1 2015

We met at Woodmont Baptist Church and the sanctuary filled with worshipers from over 40 congregations for the two-hour service of prayer, song, and visions for racial unity. I was honored to be part of the service and to offer one of several prayers for healing and unity.  The following was my contribution. 

I bring you greetings from Central Baptist Theological Seminary. And from Glendale Baptist Church. We are honored to share in this time and place with all of you gathered here.

Let us join our hearts in prayer…

God of all generations and God of the ages –
We call on your powers of comfort this evening…

We gather so we might stop and attend to the harm done to our sisters and brothers last week in Charleston, and in the days since at in fires burning down church homes across the South. We desire deep in our hearts to work for lasting change. But first and foremost, we simply want to be with the memories of those who have died, to be in spirit with the families and friends left standing in their grief.

Today we weep with those who weep; we cry out with those who cry out, we love those who have loved and lost.

God of all generations and God of the ages –
We call on your power of lives lived in faith

For you are the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Esau–
You are the God of Sarah, Hagar, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah –

When we hold up our lives in the light of these saints, we see we are not so different. We too, have our disputes, our deceit, our treachery, our roles – known and unknown – in harms that last from generation to generation. We acknowledge that the sins of the mothers and fathers that have been visited on each new generation. And we are no exceptions.

God of all generations and God of the ages –
We call on your power to forgive and renew

For you are the God of Mary and Elizabeth –
The God of Joseph and Zachariah –

When we hold up our lives in the light of these saints, we see we are not so different. We see people connected by friendship, family ties and a common call to give birth to a new day, a new moment in your salvation history. We see in them a cooperation with the Spirit and the power of a new creation.

And yet across these ages and generations, we come to this day having lived with racial divides, and we have been estranged from each other. We have inherited roles and ways of being in the world that need forgiveness and renewal. Our ancestors lived as slaves and masters, and some of us struggle to believe this is our legacy. Yet until we believe it, we cannot be forgiven or healed. We once shared homes, yet they were homes built on the false ideologies of white superiority and black inferiority, false notions of humanity and race, supported by false laws, and false doctrines of separate but equal. And we are still estranged. In need of forgiveness and renewal.

So God of all generations and God of the ages –
We call on your power to call us home

Home is not always a symbol or a place of security, peace or belonging. Even Jesus had no place to lay his head, no place to call home. Instead he made a new home – not just in far away future, but a new home here and now, and new home on the road. Jesus traveled town to town and place to place healing those broken in body and in spirit, sharing good news of your mercy, O God.

This is the new home Jesus calls us to when he says, “come, follow me.” And this is the new home we want: the one where Jesus no longer recognizes masters and slaves, but calls us all friends. Jesus heals us of the sins of the masters, the white fathers and mothers who made homes of harm and de-humanization. We repent and seek mercy O God. And Jesus heals those who bear the pain, evil and harm of slavery in their bodies from generation to generation; manifesting itself in depression, stress, financial instability, chronic fear for sons and daughters ever in harm’s way.

God of all generations and God of the ages –
Call us all to your new home, a home on the road with Jesus

We want to be your people connected by friendship, family ties and a common call to give birth to a new day, a new moment in your salvation history. We want to be the people cooperate with the Spirit and know the power of a new creation.

O God, Give us courage to confess our pain, our sin, our need for healing. Give us the courage O Lord to get up with Mary and Martha, James and John, with Joanna and Peter and step out onto the road, the road that leads to home. The journey of following Jesus who is our home.

God of all generations and God of the ages –
We thank you. For you have never given up on calling us home.



Ordinary Time – Oatmeal Chewies

Oatmeal Chewies Recipe

I’ve posted this recipe before, but when I need a good and delicious treat – which is also chocked full of healthy ingredients, I pull this one out. Love the oatmeal chewies and I’m taking them with me to a family gathering this weekend.

(Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Oatmeal Drop Cookies)
Margaret Reed

Combine in saucepan:
2 cups sugar            ½ cup milk
1 stick butter          ½ cup cocoa

Place over low heat and let butter melt. Boil hard for two minutes (no more). Remove from heat and add:

3 cups oatmeal
½ cup peanut butter, preferably crunchy
1 tsp vanilla

Mix thoroughly. Drop on waxed paper or parchment paper by spoonsful. Can use two cups oatmeal and one cup coconut. Refrigerate to firm up cookies.


(Vegan Recipe, adapted by Eileen Campbell-Reed)

Combine in saucepan:
2 cups sugar                       ½ cup almond milk
½ cup Earth Balance        ½ cup cocoa
coconut spread

Place over low heat and let butter melt. Boil hard for two minutes (no more). Remove from heat and add:

3 cups oatmeal
½ cup almond butter, preferably crunchy
1 tsp vanilla

Mix thoroughly. Drop on waxed paper or parchment paper by spoonsful. Refrigerate to firm up cookies.


Eastertide – Reflecting on the Alliance of Baptists

Reflecting on the Alliance of Baptists 

Conversation: "Leading Women: How Women Are Changing the Church"  PHOTO by Alyssa Aldape
Conversation: “Leading Women: How Women Are Changing the Church”
PHOTO by Alyssa Aldape

The Alliance of Baptists met in mid April in Atlanta, Georgia. We were hosted kindly by the good folks of Northside Drive Baptist Church. Here are some reflections on my time at the annual gathering of the Alliance.

The Numbers. For such a small denominational group, we are a powerhouse of participation. Over 400 people came to the meeting, representing over two thirds of the churches that are members of the Alliance? Unprecedented.

Words and Action. I love the way leaders in the Alliance take seriously their call to mission, social justice, and meaningful change for the sake of the gospel. I like making decisions by consensus, hearing reports about multi-year partnerships with Baptists in Cuba, Zimbabwe, and the Republic of Georgia, learning how new organizations spin out from the Alliance, yet remain connected, and seeing the ecumenical an interfaith initiatives and partnerships.

Digging Deeper. I love the substance of conversations that take place at the Alliance. In a workshop “Leading Women” I hosted over 40 women as we talked with Karen Thomas Smith, Chanequa Walker-Barnes, and Melissa Browning in depth about leadership. We questioned the concept of “empowerment,” described double binds faced by women, and grappled with complexities of race and class that cannot be ignored while talking about gender. We heard stories of institutionalized sexism and racism in Africa and North America. We talked about the problems of white privilege and the struggle to sustain change over time, while trying to nurture hope. We talked about how to start a coup or at least continue a revolution for equality, access, and meaningful change in the church.

Connections. In my longitudinal study of pastors, we explore the embodied, relational and spiritual character of learning and leading in ministry. As Baptists departed the SBC in search of new connections that were more faithful and shaped by freedom, Alliance founder Jim Strickland liked to say, “The Alliance attracts the real brains of the operation.” I tend to agree, yet I’m relieved that we’re not just concerned about our powers to think or argue about Baptist ideas and principles. No, we are interested in acting, and we understand the essential quality of embodied, relational knowing. This commitment to do more than think and talk, means we love to be together, do our work together, embodying the presence of Christ and the spirit of the Holy. By coming face-to-face, talking, eating, worshiping, singing, we are knitting together our many calls and churches into something bigger than who we are alone. More importantly, we are bearing witness to the power of God’s love and work in the world.


Eileen Campbell-Reed is Co-Director, Learning Pastoral Imagination Project and Coordinator for Coaching, Mentoring & Internship, create Central Seminary. She blogs at Keeper of the Fire and tweets at @ecampbellreed