Midwives of a Movement, a documentary that tells the story of the founding of Baptist Women in Ministry and the early years of the organization, premiered Oct. 2 at the organization’s 40th anniversary annual gathering in Louisville, Ky.
Produced by Cliff Vaughn of Good Faith Media, BWIM’s history is told through the eyes of 11 women who were instrumental in forming the group, once called Southern Baptist Women in Ministry. It also sets the denominational context in which BWIM was birthed and shares accounts of the heartaches and joys encountered by the group and by individual women who sought to serve as Baptist clergywomen.
A 1978 Southern Baptist Consultation on Women in Church-Related Vocations in Nashville is cited in the documentary as a pivotal moment in the advancement of Baptist women in ministry. The consultation drew the sponsorship of various denominational agencies and seminaries, and it focused on how women might be encouraged to engage in ministry.
Five years after the consultation, a group of women interested in advancing the cause of women in ministry met at Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville. That meeting resulted in the organization now known as BWIM. They quickly started a newsletter, “Folio,” and organized a national gathering that was held prior to the 1983 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Pittsburgh.
In the documentary interviewees also discuss:
- Responses to the group at SBC gatherings, including the 1984 SBC resolution that declared women should be excluded from pastoral leadership “because the man was first in creation and the woman was first in the Edenic fall.”
- The influence of congregations that encouraged women to follow God’s call, but in many cases would not affirm their calls when it led to ordination.
- The impact of the secular feminist movement on their vocational decisions.
- The need to advocate for all groups that have been marginalized from full inclusion in church life.
“The women who started our movement were bold and tenacious visionaries.”
“The women who started our movement were bold and tenacious visionaries,” said Meredith Stone, BWIM executive director. “While they found a way forward, the patriarchal forces they fought are still at work. With heartfelt stories, painful anecdotes, profound insights and lighthearted remembrances, Midwives of a Movement will inspire the next generation to continue confronting patriarchy in religious spaces.”
Congregations and other groups that want to screen the documentary may schedule a showing by emailing Stone. In May, the documentary will be available online.
BWIM leaders are timing the general release date to occur one month prior to the SBC annual meeting. At that meeting, messengers will consider an amendment to the SBC constitution to deny membership to any congregation that calls women to serve as any kind of pastor or elder.