Meredith Stone, a beloved professor and administrator at Logsdon Theological Seminary, has been named executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry.
BWIM is a national nonprofit organization committed to drawing together women and men to advocate for and celebrate the gifts and graces of women called to Christian ministry. The most recent executive director, Pam Durso, left this spring to assume the presidency of Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City.
Stone’s departure from Hardin-Simmons University, where she has taught since 2014, comes amid a hotly contested decision by university trustees to close the seminary. Stone serves as associate dean for academics and assistant professor of scripture and ministry at the West Texas school. She joins other seminary faculty and staff in a diaspora that is benefitting other seminaries, universities and organizations.
A native Texan, Stone previously served as an ordained minister in Baptist congregations in Texas and as a staff member specializing in supporting women in ministry for Texas Baptists. The position she once held with the Baptist General Convention of Texas no longer exists, but support for the cause in Texas largely spun off to a separate group, Texas Baptist Women in Ministry.
Ironically, the issue of supporting women in vocational ministry is one of the complaints more conservative Texas Baptist pastors lodged against Hardin-Simmons and Logsdon Seminary. Although the university’s official line is that the seminary was closed for financial reasons, a vocal alumni group continues to insist the closure is about bowing to the wishes of conservative pastors.
BWIM leadership praised Stone as the right fit for their organization in these times.
“Meredith Stone is a strategic thinker who will invite us to dream new and even bigger dreams for the landscape of women in ministry across Baptist life,” said search committee chair Courtney Allen Crump. “Meredith’s deep wisdom, theological prowess and life-long passion for this work are exactly what we need to build upon our rich history and expand the reach of Baptist Women in Ministry in the years to come.”
Throughout her career, Stone has associated with BWIM and has been a public advocate for women in ministry. She served on the BWIM leadership team from 2010 to 2015. In addition to her academic publication, Empire and Gender in LXX Esther, Stone has written extensively on women in ministry and related issues for BWIM and other publications.
She earned both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Hardin-Simmons University and a doctor of philosophy degree in biblical interpretation from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.
“Across its 37-year history, BWIM has changed the landscape of women’s leadership and involvement in our Baptist world,” Stone said after her election. “But that work isn’t done and is needed even more today. I am thrilled for the opportunity to lead BWIM in expanding its impact to more women, congregations, organizations and partners, because when women are fully valued in the church, the work of God can be more fully realized in this world.”
Stone will continue to reside in Abilene, Texas, where she lives with her husband, James, and two daughters. She is an active member and Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church in Abilene.
Paul Baxley, executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, also lauded Stone’s selection, calling her “a gifted preacher and teacher who has earned respect not only across our Fellowship but even throughout the global Baptist community in her service in the Baptist World Alliance.”
Bob Ellis, Logsdon Seminary dean, praised his colleague as “the ideal person to lead BWIM into the future. She combines remarkable gifts of scholarly insight with practical ministry instincts, compassion for individuals with visionary leadership, rich spirituality with strategic planning, and courageous advocacy with deep wisdom.”
Mary Alice Birdwhistell, pastor of Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., said she “couldn’t be more excited” about Stone’s election. “Meredith loves deeply and invests herself wholeheartedly in the lives of others — particularly women in ministry. I know she will challenge and inspire our BWIM staff and leadership team to dream God-sized dreams about what is next for our community.”
BWIM employs two full-time staff members, which will be Stone and Lynn Brinkley, associate director, who lives in Fayetteville, N.C.