In the middle of October, as the season was turning from summer to fall, I had the privilege of attending my first Christian Women’s Conference in person. I can’t exactly remember how I came across this event; it most likely came from my extensive search into seminary course offerings, or it could’ve been from the Knowing Faith podcast or Lifeway Women emails. However I ended up finding out about the Lifeway Women Academy, I found the Lifeway Women Symposium – the kickoff event for the launch of the new courses offered by Lifeway taught by women, for women. This event was described as a “biblical training event for women” where women would be taught by leading female theologians on hermeneutics and biblical literacy, two subjects that I’m always excited to learn more about from formal teaching. Two of my favorite Bible teachers were there, and I was more than excited to jump on the opportunity to attend and hear them teach live.
The event was so encouraging and wonderful to be at. Jen Wilkin’s teaching is always so clear, concise, and convicting, and I learned that she has a delightful sense of humor too. The main question she taught was, “Why are you here?”, placing emphases on ‘why’, ‘you’, and ‘here’. Because the theme of the weekend was biblical literacy, all of her teachings were tied into that common thread. Why are we, more than 500 women from across the country (I even met someone who flew in from Canada), here in Wake Forest, North Carolina at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary to learn about biblical literacy? Succinctly, it is because we saw a need in us and in our churches to grow in our faith and theological knowledge that needed to be filled, because we are theologians, students of the heart of God, and we, as women, are essential and indispensable to the church (you can read a more descriptive summary of Jen’s teaching here). This event and the Lifeway Women Academy’s goal is to provide tools, resources, confidence, and companionship to women in an accessible way.
I listened to a teaching from Melissa Kruger on why we can trust the Bible, meet her, and thank her for her work and ministry. I got to tell her about the unchurched 6th grader I had in the youth group just that week who asked me how we can trust the Bible if God wasn’t the one who wrote it. I told her about how delighted I was that she’d had the courage to ask that question without any shame or reluctance in a church setting, and how even more excited I was to get to tell her about the Holy Spirit used to document God’s word and revelation of Himself. I thanked her for her teaching which added to my own learning and defense of that question that I now get to take with me to share with others.
As I lay in bed after day 1 simultaneously trying to digest everything that I had heard and will myself to go to sleep, I couldn’t help but think about how grateful and privileged I am to live in this time and place. To live in this moment in history with access to resources, with freedom as a citizen and female to learn and serve in church contexts, to have other female leaders and teachers and theologians to look up to, both on platforms and in my own local church family. It is such a gift to sit under wise women who’ve pursued the Lord for longer than I’ve been alive, and it is not lost on me the work that it took for women on stages to not only get there but also cultivate the knowledge and character to steward those stages well.
It is beyond special to be surrounded by that large of a number of people, especially women, in one place, all there for the same purpose and same mission in mind – to grow as theologians and disciples of Jesus, to make Him known in our own hearts and the lives of others around us, and to fellowship and worship together around sound teaching and instruction. It felt otherworldly and surreal, a glimpse of what is to come in eternity.
I had the opportunity to thank Jen Wilkin for her work and ministry, for setting such a great example for me to follow, and to express gratitude for her being the woman she didn’t have when she was growing up in the church. She told me that she’s excited to see what the rising younger generations will do in the church moving forward as well. My gosh, I am too. There’s something so special about realizing you’re connected to church history, and that you’re a part of it, knowing that these women of faith have gone before me and paved a way to help me, and hopefully that I build off of their work too.
I left this conference feeling compelled to share what I learned with others. To continue committing myself to learn and grow in my orthodoxy and pray for fruit and faithfulness in my orthopraxy. To thank the women in my church and life for the gifts of their teaching and examples of faithfulness. To be thankful for the local church that I’m a part of – which has many open doors for women to serve in all kinds of capacities with their giftings and knowledge. That has spaces for women to learn and spend time together.
I loved getting to spend the weekend there with one of my closest and dearest friends and sister in Christ, sharing hotel rooms, guest bedrooms, meals, and a few long car rides together, discussing what we were learning about thinking about and life and stories. My quality time and spiritual encouragement tanks were completely filled, and this was easily one of my favorite weekends of the year. Thanks be to God for His church and His people, that span over all places and all time for me to be able to be a part of His grand and glorious plan at such a time as this.
If you’d like to listen and watch all of the main teachings and breakout sessions from the weekend, you can purchase access here!