By Emily Holladay
More than 400 people gathered June 25 to celebrate the work of Baptist Women in Ministry, particularly honoring the 50th anniversary of Addie Davis’ ordination by Watts Street Baptist Church in Durham, N.C.
Davis was the first woman ordained by a Southern Baptist church on Aug. 9, 1964. BWIM Executive Director Pam Durso told the group meeting at First Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga., that Davis paved the way for Baptist women to minister simply by following the call of God on her life.
“Above all, Addie Davis was faithful to following God even at a time when she had no role models and very little encouragement,” Durso noted in her welcome to the congregation.
Each year, BWIM honors two seminary students with awards in memory of Addie Davis: the Addie Davis Award for Excellence in Pastoral Ministry and the Addie Davis Award for Excellence in Preaching.
In recognition of Davis’ anniversary, worship was led by former Addie Davis Award winners, including a sermon from Shelley Woodruff, the 2007 recipient of the Addie Davis Award for Excellence in Preaching and a member of Watts Street Baptist Church. Dorisanne Cooper, recently called as Watts Street’s first female senior minister, led a time of communion.
Lunch followed the service, which included recognition of the 2014 Addie Davis Award recipients: Raquel Gill (Preaching) of Duke Divinity School and Erica Whitaker (Pastoral Ministry) from Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary.
Northminster Baptist Church of Jackson, Miss., was named the 2014 Baptist Women in Ministry Church of Excellence and Sue Fitzgerald of Winston-Salem, N.C., received the Frankie Huff Granger Distinguished Mentor Award.
At the end of lunch, the BWIM Leadership Team acknowledged Pam Durso’s five years of service to organization. They presented Durso with a box of letters written by the many people who have been impacted by her leadership, and laid hands on her in prayer.