Women’s Blog: Me? Seminary?

By Dawn Stephens

Don’t let opportunities pass you by!

Intro by Dr. Judi Jackson

Did you know that TWO one-hour courses are being offered during the October workshop week that could greatly enhance and inform your ministry to women in your church and sphere of influence? I know, you’re probably working on an MDiv in Biblical Studies or a MACE in Children’s Ministry but have you considered that much of the ministry you engage in now and in the future will be with women?

I encourage you to consider taking one or both of these upcoming courses being offered for undergraduate and graduate credit. They will be taught by Dr. Rhonda Kelley and Mrs. Chris Adams who both have extensive experience in local church and national ministry to women. Offered Monday, October 19 (begins at 1 p.m.) through Wednesday, October 12 (ends at 12 Noon) is Bible Study for Women. This is followed by Women and Church Growth (begins at 1 p.m. Wednesday and ends Friday at 12 Noon). Registration for each class remains open until the first class meeting. For more specific course schedules, registration directions, or copies of the undergraduate or graduate syllabi, contact Courtney Veasey, Director of Women’s Academic Programs, at or 504-282-4455 x3334.

Below is an article written by one of our Women’s Ministry certificate graduates, Dawn Stephens. Dawn serves at Church of Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama.

Me?  Seminary?

by Dawn Stephens

Me? Seminary?

This question is what many women ask when I encourage them to consider attending New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and, specifically, the women’s ministry certification program.

I can hear the questions in their heads, before they even answer me:

  •         “ I couldn’t go to seminary?”
  •         “I don’t have what it takes?”
  •         “I’m not smart enough?”

If you’re reading this and asking yourself these same questions, I want to alleviate your fears and questions by sharing with you my story as well as other women’s experiences who have asked these same questions and come back with positive and affirming answers.

My story is one of a woman who found herself leading a women’s ministry in a large church who had gotten to this point by saying “Yes!” when asked:

“Yes!” to helping my friend Melanie with special events for women at our former church;

“Yes!” to then serving on that same church’s women’s ministry leadership team as special events coordinator;

“Yes!” to moving to another church on the other side of town (a brand new type of church experience that was casual, contemporary and actually fun);

“Yes!” to answering a request from the worship guide for women to serve on a women’s ministry leadership team;

“Yes!” to agreeing to help the children’s minister, Susan, with women’s ministry;

“Yes!” to God’s prompting to ask our church to consider my volunteer role to become a part-time staff role;

“Yes!” to walking through the open door of a part-time staff Women’s Minister position at my church;

“Yes!” to asking if the part-time position could be considered to be a full time position;

“Yes!” to leaving an employment of 10 years and into a new full-time job and role on our church staff; and, finally …

“Yes!” to taking advantage of training at the seminary level in the New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary’s women’s ministry certification program in the spring of 2000.

I was blessed to have an undergraduate degree in business administration so I was able to take these classes at the graduate level.  But, only a high school degree or GED is required to start the certificate program through Leavell College!  This minimal requirement opens the door for so many women to receive training at the seminary level and also opens doors for women to be better equipped in their ministry to women both in the church and community.

All of the classes may now be taken online except one foundational course, “Women’s Work in the Local Church,” which makes the completion of this certification so doable for busy wives, mothers, employees, and church leaders.

This opportunity was conceived and started by Dr. Rhonda Kelley along with several other seminary faculty and ministers’ wives.  They recognized the need for advanced education and equipping for women leading women in the local church.

The classes encompass very real and practical needs that every women’s ministry leader needs including how to start and lead Bible studies, how to teach women how to share their faith, how to host impactful events for women, and how to shepherd women in their faith and lives.  As much as this information was helpful and a great reference resource for my personal library, the relationships I formed with other sisters in Christ was the biggest blessing to me!

I met women from all across the country who I still keep in contact with today.  These women serve God in both the church and the community and come to the certification program to enhance their knowledge of God, Scripture, and best practices for women leaders.  In each class, I learned a new idea, strategy, or perspective that enhanced and sometimes challenged my opinions.  But those challenges always forced me to think carefully about topics and questions for the women of my church.  I came away with a more concrete ministry foundation than before I entered into the class discussions and relationships.

One of these women is Deb Douglas. Deb, like so many reading this article, was a wife, mother, and church volunteer. Then God opened doors for her to begin serving on her church staff in women’s ministry, and she saw the opportunity to come to New Orleans and complete the certificate program.  Here is what she said about her experience:

“Women’s ministry is challenging, yet the certificate program gave me confidence to lead out in women’s ministry. Throughout my years since finishing, I have gone back to what I learned repeatedly. The program also inspired me to keep learning, to the point that I returned to seminary to earn a doctorate degree!” – Deb Douglas

Another friend I met during my time in the certificate program, Teresa Brady, shared this comment:

“I could barely hold back the tears of joy on my first day in class realizing that I was in a room full of women just like me; women who loved Jesus and wanted to know Him more. Women who felt compelled by God to lead and nurture other women to know Jesus more intimately.  It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I rushed out of class and quickly called my husband to tell him all I had experienced.” – Teresa Brady

These women started with a “first step” when they enrolled in the women’s ministry certificate program.  And look where it took them … to a place of confidence, a place of growth, and a place of preparedness to face the challenges and joys of ministering to women, wherever God placed them in His plan.

I pray this encourages you to take your first step and consider the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s women’s ministry certificate program for yourself!

Hope to see you in the Big Easy soon!