In 21 years of ministry, Andrea McKenzie has had only one mentor who is both a woman and in ministry.
ALEXANDRIA – In 21 years of ministry, Andrea McKenzie has had only one mentor who is both a woman and in ministry.
McKenzie wants to change that for women called to vocational Christian service. She is spearheading the formation of an organization where women serving as professionals in Southern Baptist churches and denominational entities in Louisiana can gather for fellowship, encouragement and accountability.
“It’s sticky” to be mentored by a man or to be accountable on a personal and spiritual basis to a man who is not your husband, McKenzie said. “There are certain things I would never tell a man,” she explained. There are very real boundaries men and women working together in ministry cannot cross and still maintain an appropriate length of personal and professional distance, she said.
And yet, there is as much need for women in ministry as for men in ministry to be in relationship with someone “who has been in that same position, perhaps for a longer period of time, and get the benefit of the kind of wisdom that comes from years of serving the Lord, working in His church and serving His people,” McKenzie said.
“I would like to see female students and young professionals – women new to the ministry – have the opportunity to connect with and receive and encouragement from another woman whose ‘been there and done that,’” McKenzie said. “A core group of us, about five of my colleagues in various types of ministry, are giving direction to this, but we have already had contact with 35 women expressing interest in an organization that would provide them with professional, spiritual, personal support and guidance. Mentoring is a lot what we’re looking at doing.”
The first meeting of this as yet unnamed group is to take place during the time slot also used by the pastors conference that precedes the Louisiana Baptist Convention in November. Set for 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12, at Emmanuel Baptist Alexandria, the gathering is to include a guest speaker, discussion about the parameters and purview of the group, election of officers, determination of the spring meeting, and perhaps selection of a name.
“There’s a national organization out there for Baptist women in ministry that has a feminist agenda,” McKenzie said. “That’s not who we are; we’re comfortable with the way things are. We’re already serving. We’ve given our lives and our hearts to serve Louisiana Baptist churches and Louisiana’s people.”
Some women ministers attend ministry-specific support groups, such as youth or children, but apparently no organization exists in Louisiana that encompasses all areas of calling for Southern Baptist women in vocational ministry, McKenzie said.
“We want to involve women – student, active, retired, full-time, part-time, paid, nonpaid – whatever stage you are in your calling,” McKenzie said. “We have unique issues men don’t face besides the obvious issue of typically being the primary person responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of home and family.
“For example,” she continued,” generally when a pastor is called to another church, his wife follows in what God has called him to. In a woman’s situation, if she is called to another church elsewhere, and her husband has a good job where they’re at – how to navigate that? …”
McKenzie is director of institutional research and institutional effectiveness at Louisiana College. “ I work with the faculty and staff to compile and analyze data that relates to the college’s mission and performance – basically I do reports and paperwork,” she explained.
Her involvement with this fledgling group is as an individual and is unrelated to her employment, she was quick to say. The organization is not an official entity of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, but is limited to women serving in Louisiana Baptist churches, McKenzie said.
“I’ve been thinking about this for years,” McKenzie said. “I believe the Lord is speaking to other women about this same need – women who will bring their vision from the Lord for this type of group to this gathering in November.”
Emmanuel Baptist was selected as the site of the first meeting because they “generously” offered the group meeting space at no cost, McKenzie said. There is a need for donations to help get the group off the ground. First Baptist Oakdale, where McKenzie is a member, has established a dedicated account for the receipts of funds until the organization is established with a name, officers and a bank account.
Indicate on your check the donation is for the new statewide group for vocational women in leadership, and mail it to First Baptist Church, 117 S 12th St, Oakdale LA 71463, or bring it to the gathering at 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12, at Emmanuel Alexandria.
“As we embark on this new venture, I think about the students I meet every day here at Louisiana College and remember what it was like when I was a student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary – how Dr. Jeanine C. Bozeman mentored me,” McKenzie said. “I always say she’s what I want to be when I grow up! Her friendship, guidance and instruction have provided me with my basic philosophy of ministry. My desire is for every female in ministry to have a Dr. Bozeman, and why not two, or three?”
For more information contact McKenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org