A few weeks ago, the Church of God, Anderson (the Christian tradition to which I belong) met for our National convention in Orlando, Florida. Thought leaders and preachers from around the nation joined for four days of worship and meetings. I had an opportunity to sit down with a few of my favorite preachers, who happen to be women, and ask them a few questions about ministry, sermon prep, and real life. Here are my first two installments:
1. Rev. Dr. Lori Salierno Dr. Lori Salierno-Maldonado works as a passionate keynote speaker, is the author of several books and is the co-creator of the Teach One to Lead One philosophy. She is an avid spokeswoman for the cause of transforming at-risk youth into responsible citizens. Dr. Lori balances her time between the management of her successful non-profit organization and invitations to speak to audiences throughout the world. Dr. Lori lives with her husband, Jose Maldonado, in the Atlanta, GA area.
2. Rev. Arnetta Bailey Rev. Dr. Arnetta McNeese Bailey has served the Church of God as an advocate for reconciliation, an inspired preacher, and as a servant leader. Her passionate faith informs her life and her work. Rev. McNeese Bailey is the Executive Director of Christian Women Connection. Under Rev. McNeese Bailey’s leadership, Women of the Church of God transformed into Christian Women Connection to become “a place for every woman, where every woman takes her place.”
She is the founder and Executive Director of Pricilla’s Lost and Found and In the Company of Good Men, faith-based mentoring programs for women and men in transition. Rev. McNeese Bailey writings can be found in Bridges curriculum published by Warner Press and in Called to Minister, Empowered to Serve.
Arnetta has served numerous organizations and ministries, serving the National Association of the Church of God, Children of Promise, Circle of Missions Committee, Executive Leadership Strategic Planning Committee of the Church of God, and the Church of God Reconciliation Task Force.
While the Church is Rev. McNeese Bailey’s passion, her leadership is evident in the secular world as well where she serves on the Connect Marketplace & Religious Conference Management Association (RCMA) Advisory Board and the Buffalo/Niagara Customer Advisory Council. Arnetta also served with Special Olympics and Big Brothers & Sisters of America.
Arnetta has traveled extensively as a keynote speaker for national conferences and conventions throughout the United States. In addition to being a featured guest on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, she has preached and taught internationally in the countries of India, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Bermuda and the Caribbean.
Rev. McNeese Bailey holds a degree from Ashland Theological Seminary in African American Religious Studies and a Master of Theological Studies from Anderson University School of Theology. In 2016 she received an Honorary Doctor of Divinity from Anderson University.
She has three children, Merlelynn, Markus & Jamal and is the proud grandmother of two. Arnetta is a member of Sherman Street Church of God, Anderson, Indiana.
Have you ever struggled with how to reconcile the so- called "restrictive passages" regarding women in ministry, traditionally attributed to Paul, with other texts like Galatians 3.26-28, I Corinthians 11, Romans 16, etc? In this LIVE I discuss the ministry of the Pauline circle and how we might consider these texts and how they might be applied. Enjoy!
In this LIVE I wanted to share with my community about the lasting impact Rachel Held Evans had on my own life. She was a fighter and a prophet and a woman of valor, and I am so grateful for her precision of her pen. #becauseofRHE
As women called to ministry, we are often confronted with doctrines based upon particular passages in Scripture like this gem in 1 Corinthians 14.34-36 "...women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only ones it has reached?
In this video I address the reality that this passage is out of context and is considered a "traveling passage." Watch this brief video to learn more!
In this video I chat about some of my all time favorite Preaching Resources. Barbara Brown Taylor, Fred Craddock, Will Willimon and some of my mentors get a shout out too!
Here's a sneak peak at the upcoming History Channel docu-series, Jesus: His Life. The series will premier on March 25, 2019 for during the Lenten Season and I am so happy to have contributed to this project along with other pastors and bible scholars.
Calling all Girl Preachers and Justice Leaders!! I hope you'll enjoy this FB Live post where I introduce Preacher Girl School, a forum to encourage, equip and empower women to take their preaching to the next level.
When I began preaching I felt both exhilarated and paralyzed. Though I had some incredibly supportive and encouraging mentors, they were men. While they were affirming and offered me opportunities to preach, they were unable to help me discover my own unique and feminine voice.
This course is designed for women who want to take their preaching to the next level. You can sign up for our next cohort beginning March 20, 2019!
It’s a picturesque winter’s day here in Central Indiana, fluffy white snowflakes fall from the grey, brooding sky and I worked all weekend to deck the proverbial halls so that my home is filled with twinkle lights and candle glow.
This morning as I drove to work Bing Crosby’s Christmas in Kilarney crooned on my xm radio and then Johnny Mathis’ Silver Bells floated through the airwaves and I was transported back to a time of bliss. When I was a child, my mother would play the velvety sounds of Mathis’ Christmas album on our stereo, the buffet sized furniture in our family room. My sister and I would dance around in our nightgowns and decorate the tree while we sipped on egg nogg in tiny cermaic santa mugs my mother had lovingly made. I was blessed and full to tears and so grateful I had my channel set to Holiday tunes rather than the news station where I am typically parked until I remembered the awful state of our world. But even as I smiled at the memories, my phone pinged with Cyber shopping updates and twitter notifications about babies being tear gassed at the border.
I felt instantly guilty, shameful that I sat in my SUV driving through my suburban city in the Rust Belt while children screamed in horror at the result of the actions of my own government. I simultaneously patted myself on the back for taking a break from the 24 hour news cycle of hate and greed and violence to celebrate the goodness of this season and was embarrassed that I’d taken this respite while children cry out in fear.
I know I am not the only Jesus follower conflicted with the heart sickness of our reality and the longing for wonder. I can not be the only activist, mommy, scholar who is wrung out from the fight, knowing full well when this posts other Christ followers will attack my views and there will be an endless back and forth over who this Jesus really is.
But then, this is the way it has always been, this tale is as old as time and longer still, factions fighting each other over who God is and how God has come to us. For my part, I am running hard after the Jesus of the manger, the one conceived of an unmarried woman and born in a stable. I am a follower of the Jesus who was reared as a refugee and challenged the empire; I worship the one who was a friend to sinners and dined with prostitutes.
So today as Johnny Mathis sings and twitter zings, I am confounded and exhausted and in need of the revelation of Christ in this broken and battered world. While the snow falls I allow myself to be warmed by sweet memories but I click out a call from my small space in the story of our own making. Let’s agree we won’t harm children. Just that. Let us demand of our government and those across the world to do no harm to children and to invest in their lives, their dreams, their safety and education. Let's do what we can to help shape the future through love and not war. Let's burn down the cages that imprison our hope for a better world; lets feed and clothe hungry children in our city and around the globe. Could we lock arms around the notion that refugee children should be loved, not gassed. Could we resolve to welcome them, connect them to social services, find them shelter as they seek asylum, you know, just as someone did for our Lord as he fled Herod’s reach (Matthew 2).
I see you Parkland. I deep feel your loss woke with full throated cries for justice. You grieve, you march, you speak truth to power, and cry white hot tears into your pillow at night for the horror of your reality. I know that the fight is your life raft, carrying you out into the ocean of mourning but buoying you with purpose and calling. While you attend funerals, sing the hymns of goodbye and breathe in the sacred writ of hope, your heart beats and from the ashes you rise.
I know there are moments, there are sleepless nights and 4 am struggles right now unseen to the world as we watch you lead, fierce and fiery the upward fight. I know you search in the darkness for answers to the questions of senseless slaughter and innocence lost and the sound of shells ricocheting off the walls. I know you jolt awake to the alarm and you wonder if it was all a dream and your body has to feel anew the reality that is life after massacre.
I wanted to say, we are here, with you and for you. We are cheering you on from our living rooms and praying for you at altars and signing up to march with you in the coming days. We are awed by your strength and convicted by your courage and we are locking arms with you as you show us all a new way forward. We post #neveragain and we watch you from a far, we write checks and we bless your tireless work and we know the power of surviving and the passion of leading through. You are brave and you are a blessing and we will never be the same again.
But when it’s quiet, and when you feel lost, when you remember you are a child and your leaders have failed you, your communities are broken and know full well you are not safe; know we are holding space for you. We know you are warriors and we know you are children and everyone needs a soft place to land where we can be vulnerable, where our fear can be spoken and where we are held. We stretch out our arms and embrace you, hold you close to our chest and rock you back and forth, stroking your hair we whisper, “you are not alone.” Your home is the kingdom of peace where we work for justice and you are welcome here.
We remind you what is true, life is hard but God is with us. We sing the truth over you, “love is stronger than the grave” (Song of Solomon 8.6). We remind you that you remain as carriers of the stories, witnesses to the goodness of those who have been lost and you now live carrying them in your heart even as they spur you on from the great cloud above (Hebrews 12.1). We whisper you are loved and we tell you we are so sorry and we hold on to one another and make it through. You are heroes and you are babies and you are ours.
I wiped off the dust, soaked it clean with tears, washed over it with shaking hands and a pounding heart. The images opened the door, the locked place where the pain lives, where the white hot pulse lurks just below the surface, so much lost.
It is not pity, exactly, there are more who have lost far more, whose grief is red raw, every hour laid bare. Mine has been processed, talked through, I have found a way to stand again, but every now and then the reality of their physical absence chills my bones and I shake and shutter, break open scanrs that have long healed over.
That’s what happened yesterday when I cleaned out her things, boxes of photographs she had lovingly saved, memorials of love she had kept across the ages of me and her and him. The smiles haunt and hurt and hug across the years, voices swirl and memories flood and I am back there again when they are close before the fresh dirt of the open grave.
There is a reason we compartmentalize, because to take this life all at once, the beauty and tragedy, the joy, the heart wrenching pain would be too much. His smile, staring up at me from black and white photo, curly hair and chubby cheeks, polo jacket thrown over one shoulder, me wiping his mouth and kissing his forehead, mama and me at high school graduation, baby sister crawling on the floor, nipping at my heels.
My mother’s walls were plastered with these, no space left for a thing. Everywhere you looked she hung portraits of loved ones, and now I think, it’s as if she knew. It is like she knew there’d be a time when she’d be gone and she wanted us to be able to find our way. We would tease her, encourage her to pare down tell her it was all too much. She’d smile so that her eyes would disappear and say, “This will all be yours someday.”
And so it is, I remain. How is it that I’m the one who survived, I am the one still here to feel the rain on my lashes and smell the snow in the air. I am here living life wide eyed and full heart—what is left of this heart any way. “You’ll find the rest of me in Heaven” Sarah Scharborough sings and I deep know what those words mean; for what of me continues on is whole, but parts of me have flown. So for me, she curated snapshots of our life, pieces of our magical journey of love and laughter in excess.
So today I am grateful, filled with understanding—I now see through--, these artifacts were meant to take me back, bring me home, put crumbs along the path so I could find my way and share with those who await reunion with me. “I was here, and I loved you” she whispers, “I am here now, helping you tell the story—you are the keeper of the secrets divine.”
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