Network of Women Ministers Hosts Q and A Panel for Ladies Under 40
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Network of Women Ministers hosted a luncheon for those in the under 40 group. This Q&A Panel style luncheon covered hot topic issues that this group is currently facing and those issues that are on the horizon.
The four panelists were Pastor J. Alfaro, senior pastor at El Tabernaculo, Saehee Duran, president of the Korean English Fellowship and vice president of Enrollment and Marketing at Trinity Bible College &Graduate School in Ellendale, North Dakota, Brittany Jones, ministry leader at Motivation Church, and Linda Seiler, ordained minister, writer, and founder of ReStory Ministries.
During the luncheon, the panel answered questions in the categories of diversity, mental health, marriages in ministry, and on authentically and effectively ministering to the LGBTQ community.
The first two questions were directed to Duran who spoke on unity amidst differing viewpoints and ways to intentionally seek out diversity. Duran stated the unity is a biblical mandate and it is the heart of God. She encouraged the group to remember how uncomfortable discord is and to be the bridge to unity as leaders. In addressing the question related to intentionally diversifying, she challenged women to look at the people at their dinner table. “Who are we inviting to sit with us, who are we meeting for lunch appointments,” she asked. “What we preach,” she continued, “must be consistent with what we are living. We can’t preach unity and diversity unless we are living it.” In a statement of practical advice, Duran said that leaders must get outside of their people group. “Get outside of your ethnic group, outside of your age group, outside of your socioeconomic class,” she said.
Jones, whose testimony includes a mental health journey, alerted attendees of indicators of decreased mental health and gave some practical measures to preserving stable mental health. Jones listed key indicators of poor mental health as isolation, above simple introversion, prolonged sadness, racing thoughts, and always feeling overwhelmed. “That doesn’t describe the life that God wants us to live,” Jones said. She went on to discuss what she believed were key preventative measure for staying mentally healthy. “Rhythms, especially of doing healthy things, keep us going even when we don’t feel like it,” she said. Developing routines and rhythms, she went on, serve as checkpoints for days when life is hard. “I have my rhythms so on bad days, I know what the next task is and I take it step by step.” She ended by cautioning against isolation and encouraged being intentional about making a wide variety of friends because, she said, “all friendships don’t have to look the same.”
Pastor Jay Alfaro spoke on the importance of healthy marriages and ways husbands can serve alongside their wives. He stated that the equality of men and women should be a culture, not just a policy or a procedure. “Culture is what you feel when you walk into a space,” he said. He shared that he wants women to shine and feel elevated, especially his wife. “When she shines, I shine,” he says, “and when she is healthy, our marriage is healthy.” He ended by sharing that he believes success flows through a healthy marriage and taking care of your spouse is what keeps ministry couples solid.
The final panelist, Linda Seiler, answered questions on loving and ministering to those in the LGBTQ community. She started by explaining a cultural shift that has moved same sex relations from a verb, an action, to a noun and an identity. “This shift moved the issue from an issue of morality to an issue of civil rights,” Seiler said. When it comes to members of the LGBTQ community, Seiler said that it is important to “express the truth of God in a loving and compassionate way to show that while we disagree with the idea of homosexuality and transgenderism, we love the person who was made in the image of God.”
A specific question was asked about attending weddings for those in this community. Seiler admitted that in the past she would have said to attend in an effort to meet them where they are at but she now has a different opinion. “Sometimes we are so focused on losing people, on our retention rate, that we elevate the second commandment above the first,” she said. “Even Jesus didn’t have a 100% retention rate,” she stated. Seiler continue to speak about the ceremonial covenant that a wedding symbolizes and shared that by attending, it would be bearing witness to an abomination of a covenant that God designed to be between a biological man and a biological woman.
She ended by reminding those room that sanctification is a process and change is a byproduct of transformation. “Therefore,” she advised, “we have to disciple the wound behind the behaviors,” speaking about the dangers of simply focusing on behavior modification instead of progressive sanctification, a result of intimate discipleship.
The luncheon began and ended by facilitating a time of fellowship and networking, a unique opportunity for young women ministers.