WMI sessions explore women’s mentorship, leadership development

Communications Staff — April 5, 2004

More than a dozen women learned how to implement biblically based women’s mentorship programs and studied the basics of leadership skill development during sessions of the Women’s Ministry Institute (WMI) March 29-April 2 at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Janice Seifrid, director of student life at Southern Seminary, and Heather King, Southern’s director of women’s programs, led the sessions on leadership skill development. Garnetta Smith, women’s Bible study teacher at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville and Rose Booth, mentoring team leader at Ninth and O Baptist Church in Louisville, led the sessions dealing with women’s mentorship.

Upon the completion of eight WMI units of study, students receive a certificate of ministry studies from Boyce College. WMI is a program designed to train laywomen to minister in the context of a local congregation.

“Women’s ministry leaders desire to be equipped and effective as they are a vital part of God’s kingdom,” said King. “However, the vast majority will not become full-time seminary students. WMI is a way to link women’s ministry leaders providing an atmosphere of learning, networking and encouragement.”

Cindy Miller, a women’s ministry leader at Red House Baptist Church in Richmond, Ky., said the training she receives at WMI has translated into increased effectiveness in her ministry.

“The sound doctrine that has come from [these sessions] has really impressed me,” Miller said. “… I have tried to take this home and put it into effect, and everything that I have learned here has worked in women’s ministry in a local church.”

Bonnie Epperson, a women’s ministry leader at Valley View Baptist Church in Louisville, said the sessions on discipleship proved particularly helpful for her ministry.

The sessions encouraged me to “do more discipleship with … women, not so much just building friendships but building them in their relationships with Christ,” she said. “… As leaders … our intentional heart’s desire is to make disciples for Christ.”

In addition to gaining knowledge from lectures and readings, WMI students develop “genuine Christian sisterhood” with each other, said King.

“Not a part of the official curriculum is this amazing bond that surpasses mere friendship and enters the realm of Christian sisterhood,” said King. “They are interested in each other’s personal lives and ministries. It is not uncommon to see women huddled together during the breaks and meals praying for each other’s ministries and needs.”

The combination of classroom instruction and Christian fellowship helps students develop a holistic and balanced approach to women’s ministry, according to many participants.

“I came thinking that I was going to learn how to … put a program together,” said Sandi McDowell of Red House Baptist Church in Richmond, Ky. “And what I really learned was that it’s not about the program. It’s about the spirit of the women and … learning where our hearts need to be.

“… Women do not realize what a goldmine they have spiritually in the Women’s Ministry Institute.”

WMI will hold its next sessions Sept. 20-24 at the Louisville campus. Those desiring further information should contact the Southern Seminary admissions office at 1-800-626-5525.

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