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Network of Women Ministers Hosts Sold Out Event

With 700 in attendance, the Network of Women Ministers hosted a sold-out breakfast to encourage side-by-side ministry between men and women.

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Thursday morning, the Network of Women Ministers (NWM) hosted 700 attendees at a breakfast event designed to spread awareness of the network. Co-hosted by Nichole Schreiber and Rod Loy, the breakfast, themed Side-by-Side, brought together a conglomerate mix of both credentialed and uncredentialed individuals. According to the registration data, 60% of those in attendance were women and 40% were men. This was the only sold-out event at General Council 2023.

In an opening segment, Schreiber and Loy drew names for several large giveaways which included gift cards, boxes of gourmet chocolates, a Swatch, and an iPad.

Schreiber has been a lead pastor for seven years at Erie First Assembly of God in Erie, Pennsylvania and is the first female lead pastor at her church. She has been in ministry for over 19 years serving Chi Alpha for 12 years before taking her pastorate position.  Schreiber shared that she personally connected with NWM after her first year as a lead pastor. She states that some friends told her about NWM, citing the relational connection is what initially drew her in. Schreiber now serves as the Lead Pastor Representative for the NWM which is a role designed to care for the 650 female senior pastors in the nation. “The Network of Women Ministers is critical to supporting women in ministry because, although men and women share similar leadership struggles, women have a unique set of struggles and this network serves as encourage and inspiration through those struggles,” she said.

Rod Loy has been in ministry for over 32 years and is currently serving as the lead pastor at First Assembly of God in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Loy has also authored several books on a variety of topics including obedience and marriage.

The breakfast featured several tandems of people, each consisting of a man and a woman, who testified in short segments how they have successfully worked together or how men and women can better serve alongside one another. “The idea is,” Schreiber stated, “to show examples of how men and women can work side by side.” She went on to say that the purpose of the event was not to make one gender less than the other but was to demonstrate that “men and women working together in ministry is how God intended it to be. When we acknowledge this and can work together, we can get more done for the Kingdom.”

The first pair to speak were Beth Backes and Don Ross. Backes serves as the lead pastor of The Table and serves as the Development Director for the Network of Women Ministers and Ross is the District Superintendent of the Northwest Ministry Network, a network that host over 400 credentialed women. Ross highlighted the importance of side-by-side leadership saying, “our fellowship is constitutionally accepting of women in ministry but we are often culturally resistant.” He challenged the men to continue to advocate for women in ministry and stated that their absence left 50% of the Lord’s workforce on the bench. Backes highlighted a new network called, Elevate Leadership Network which is an interactive, leadership development platform that creates a community for women in ministry.

Beth Grant, co-founder of Project Rescue and advocate and mentor for women ministers, and David Wigington, senior pastor of Cornerstone Church,  shared their side-by-side moment during which Wigington shared that he was a student in a college missions course for which Grant was the professor. “After the class,” Grant shared, “David has continued to support Project Rescue and given me platforms to share my heart.”

Chris and Jan Beard, lead pastor and co-lead pastor of Peoples Church in Ohio said that they work side-by-side because it did not make sense to them to have half of their church sitting in the stands while the other half were on the field. “Side-by-side ministry is a true honor,” said Beard, “and some of the smartest people on our team are our women leaders.”

Elly Marroquin, Director of Christian Education and Discipleship encouraged attendees to look for ways to open the door for others who are walking in their giftset. “Don’t think man or woman,” she shared, “think who is the best person for this job and how can I help them succeed so that the Kingdom can expand.”

Schreiber and Loy, the final pair, shared how they encouraged one another in the ministry. “Rod took genuine interest in my church and my leadership journey,” Schreiber said. “I would send him my sermons and he would take time to give some valuable feedback.” Loy shared that he values Schreiber’s giftings, her friendship, and has her come do leadership training for his staff so they can continue to learn from one another.

As the breakfast ended, the panel delivered eight small action steps that every attendee could take that would open the door a little wider for men and women to do ministry side-by-side. The steps were to join Elevate Leadership Network, find a mentor, think missionally, keep business business and personal things personal, remember that women can change the game, partner with the Holy Spirit to develop gifts in others, encourage each other daily, and remember to pass the microphone to the women around you.

“My biggest push,” Schreiber stated, “is for women to get connected to the Network of Women Ministers because it offers a unique support system that can’t be found anywhere else.” “God designed us to do life together,” she said, “and we have the opportunity to be ministry role models for girls in the next generation.” 

Ashley B. Grant

Ashley B. Grant has a master's degree in Human Services Marriage and Family Counseling from Liberty University and is a credentialed Christian counselor through the American Association of Christian Counselors. Grant also holds certifications in crisis pregnancy counseling and advanced life coaching. Ashley is a fourth generation Assemblies of God preacher’s kid and has one daughter and three sons.