WE ARE ALL ‘CREATED TO BE CALLED’
By LORETTA FULTON
“Don’t believe the lies,” Hardin-Simmons University President Eric Bruntmyer said during the Texas Baptist Women in Ministry Conference held Feb. 22 at HSU’s Logsdon Seminary.
The lies he referred to are about the role of women in society and in ministry, specifically in Baptist ministry. If Ellen Di Giosia had listened to the lies, she wouldn’t be senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Jefferson City, Tennessee, and most likely wouldn’t have been featured speaker for the conference at Hardin-Simmons.
Di Giosia had to tune out lies like her clothing might be too provocative or that she was “just trying to make a name for herself” as she rose to the position she currently holds. Although there are increasingly more women in Baptist pulpits, some congregations still cling to the historic Baptist position that didn’t allow women to preach.
The Texas Baptist Women in Ministry Conference, held for the first time in 2007, rotates annually between Hardin-Simmons’ Logsdon Seminary at Truett Seminary at Baylor University. Theme for the 2019 conference was “Create.” According to the Women in Ministry website, the annual conference is “a day of affirmation, encouragement, advocacy, and inspiration.”
Charlotte Bridges. left, meets Ellen Di Giosia, who preached the sermon for the opening worship session Feb. 22 at the Texas Baptist Women in Ministry Conference held at Hardin-Simmons University. Photo by Loretta Fulton
Di Giosia opened the conference with a sermon titled “Created to Be Called.” The prophet Jeremiah got his calling straight from God, according to Jeremiah 1: 4-10. And Jeremiah protested.
“The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.
But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.'”
Di Giosia’s interpretation may sound more familiar to modern listeners.
“What? A prophet? Are you kidding?”
Jeremiah had envisioned the cushy life of a king, not the dangerous and under-appreciated life of a prophet.
Di Giosia didn’t compare herself with a prophet, but she had to wonder, like Jeremiah, why God was calling her to do something that might not result in a cushy and appreciated life. Why in the world would a woman pursue the call to ministry when it might be tough and not accepted?
“I just have a deep conviction that I was born to do this,” Di Giosia said. “That’s what calling is.”
Humans are created to be called, Di Giosia said. What gives you life? What makes you sing? Answering those questions is part of discovering your calling, Di Giosia said.
“God made you as a whole and integrated being,” she said, blessing each person with talents, gifts, and opportunities.