“Baptist Preacher Girl”
An Evening of Entertainment
National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion
May 19, 2014
By Kryn Freehling-Burton with Susan Shaw
In a denomination that historically has centered on soul competency, what happens when women hear a call to ministry? Out of more than 200 interviews with Southern Baptist women, professor Susan Shaw talked with 50 who responded to a call to preach and/or to ministry. Their conversations are rich and lively accounts of hearing the call and subsequent experiences at seminary, on the mission field, and in churches. These narratives inspired Dr. Shaw’s research assistant, Kryn Freehling-Burton to create a play that would give voice to the stories. The first dramatization of the research, Baptist Preacher Girl, premiered at Oregon State University Theatre’s One-Act Festival in 2007 and was performed at the National Women’s Studies Association the following year.
Presented in Reader’s Theatre format, four women become various characters who tell their stories in connection with other women’s stories allowing for nearly 20 individual women’s experiences to be documented in performance. From Girls in Action to baptism, seminary to pastoring a church, the thirty-minute play includes depictions of specific moments in their lives as well as reflections on the ways that encouragement of or resistance to women in church leadership affected individuals’ options and ministry trajectories. Some moments included in the play are a Bible verse Sword Drill, altar call songs, and ordination memories. The play was most recently performed for a group of scholars researching women in Southern Baptist and related denominations, some of whom will join the playwrights on the cast for a performance at NABPR.
Four scholars, Susan Shaw, Kryn Freehling-Burton, Courtney Pace Lyons, and Karen Seat, will present Baptist Preacher Girl. The performance will be enriched by an invitation to the audience to join the hymn singing during the play and by a discussion with the actors/scholars following the performance, moderated by yours truly.