New opportunities among women’s events in Birmingham

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By Shannon Baker

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — Women attending the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Birmingham are invited to a trio of events, including a SBC Women’s Session, a Ministers’ Wives Luncheon, and a women’s expo at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC).

Lauren Chandler will be the keynote speaker during the Southern Baptist Convention Ministers’ Wives Luncheon, June 11. Among new opportunities, all women across the SBC are invited to participate in a “Women’s Session” at 9 a.m. on June 10, during this year’s SBC Pastors’ Conference. The three-hour event, which replaces the former Pastors’ Wives Conference, will feature the newly launched SBC Women’s Leadership Network. 

Speakers include Norine Brunson, wife of Andrew Brunson, the American pastor released this fall from imprisonment in Turkey; and Lauren Chandler, wife of Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas; among others.

SBC Women’s Session

All women across the Southern Baptist Convention are invited to participate in a “Women’s Session” at 9 a.m. on Monday, June 10, during this year’s SBC Pastors’ Conference.

Speakers for the SBC Women’s Session include Brunson, Lori McDaniel, Kandi Gallaty, Missie Branch, and Amy Whitfield, among others.

The three-hour event, which replaces the former Pastors’ Wives Conference, will feature the newly launched SBC Women’s Leadership Network (WLN), which, according to its website is “a collaborative community of women from the Southern Baptist Convention family who long to lead in diverse ways to significantly impact the Kingdom of God.” It will be held in BJCC Rooms A-J.

Susie Hawkins, one of 14 steering committee members of the recently inaugurated network and wife of O.S. Hawkins, president and CEO of GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, explained, “We have broadened our purpose to include all women, not just specifically ministry wives … but all women who work in our seminaries, agencies, LifeWay” and more.

“We believe women are indispensable in the advancement of the Gospel,” she said.

The WLN offers a blog, podcast and Facebook page, she explained, and those participating affirm the SBC’s Baptist Faith and Message and embrace theological complementarianism.

McDaniel, also a steering committee member, serves as manager of church initiatives in mobilization at the International Mission Board. She and her husband Mike and their three children served as missionaries in Zambia, Africa, before returning to plant Grace Point Church in Bentonville, Arkansas, where Mike is senior pastor.

Gallaty, wife of Robby Gallaty, pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee, is the author of “Disciple Her: Using the Word, Work, & Wonder of God to Invest in Women” and a trainer for Replicate Ministries, which equips and trains men and women to be disciples who make disciples.

Branch is assistant dean of students to women and the director of graduate life at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, N.C., serving women in both the college and the seminary.

Whitfield is director of marketing and communications at SEBTS and co-host of the podcast, “SBC This Week.” Amy co-authored the book, “SBC FAQs: A Ready Reference” and has served since 2016 as an assistant parliamentarian for the Southern Baptist Convention. She is married to Keith, who serves as dean of graduate studies and vice president for academic administration at SEBTS.

Melody Bunch (left) from Asheville, N.C., and Tricia Coffman, from Soldotna, Alaska, get to know one another while waiting in line to attend the 2018 Ministers’ Wives Luncheon in Dallas. Bunch has only missed one SBC meeting since 1985. ADAM COVINGTON/Baptist Press

Kathy Litton, Send Network spouses’ trainer for the North American Mission Board, will lead a panel discussion on discipling women, and Donna Gaines, wife of former SBC President Steve Gaines, will interview Brunson.

The wide range of women who come to this gathering will also enjoy table conversations, a question-and-answer panel discussion, and worship led by Kristin and Eric Yeldell from First Baptist Church of Naples, Florida.

There is no cost for the Monday event and registration is not required. Women who serve in any facet of local church leadership, missions, and denominational work are invited to attend.

SBC Ministers’ Wives Luncheon

Lauren Chandler will be the keynote speaker during the SBC Ministers’ Wives Luncheon, announced Kim Hamm, luncheon president.

The June 11 luncheon theme is “Steadfast” from Chandler’s popular book, “Steadfast Love: The Response of God to the Cries of Our Heart” and the recently released Bible study, “Steadfast Love: A Study of Psalm 107.”

“Lauren has such a heart for women,” said Hamm, wife of Gardendale Baptist Church Pastor Kevin Hamm. “She is so relatable and understands well that when we are in our storms, we have to be anchored in the Lord. The praises of people will not hold us. Only God is our anchor.”

In 2009, Chandler’s husband faced a malignant brain tumor, of which he was subsequently healed.

“We are all real women going home to real problems and real ministry — and we will sink if we are not anchored in the Lord,” said Hamm, who has served alongside her husband in various roles: youth ministry, at a small country church, and now a 3,000-member megachurch in suburban Birmingham.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of church you are from, we all come into the room needing to sit down and relax and be lifted up to the Lord,” she said.

Charlotte Guffin and Faith Harper from the worship team at Gardendale Baptist Church will serve as musical guests for the luncheon, which begins at noon.

Tickets for the luncheon, which is open to all wives of pastors, church staff members, chaplains, missionaries and denominational workers, are $20/person and can be purchased online.

Women’s Expo

In the lobby outside the ballroom, a women’s expo will offer resources to “expose, engage, enlighten and empower” women through displays for new Bible studies, ministry support, and evangelistic tools. There will be between 20-25 exhibitors focusing on ministries for women and to women.

Diane Nix, the expo organizer, said, “Our hope is that information gathered will not only be an encouragement for their journey but will inspire them as they go home to family and the women of their churches.” Persons interested in exhibiting should contact Nix at

All events will be held in or near the BJCC South meeting rooms A-J on Level 2.

Shannon Baker is director of communications for the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey in Harrisburg, Pa.

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