Rev. Jewel London gave an outstanding presentation, “Sheroes in the Faith: Rising Above Adversity,” at the “Unauthorized: Nevertheless, She Preached” event in Waco, Texas. Rev. London, a minister at The Church Without Walls in Houston, Texas, inspired us by lifting up current women who have overcome obstacles to fulfill their call to ministry.
Pastor Tabatha C. Whitten: Founder and pastor of Remnant Fellowship Church in Houston, Texas, she is also a licensed social worker and has worked with troubled youth and their families for over 20 years. She preaches the Gospel in prisons and cares for the poor, and ministers to families through a company she established called L.I.F.E. (Living Intentionally For Eternity). She is also a writer, vocalist, and producer.
Rev. Dr. Claudette A. Copeland: In spite of those who argue that women shouldn’t preach, nevertheless, she preaches and co-pastors New Creation Christian Fellowship in San Antonio, Texas. She and her husband were the first African American clergy couple in the history of the U.S. Military Chaplaincy. She has ministered in Haiti, South Africa, West Africa and East Africa, and is the founder of a national empowerment group for women.
Rev. Dr. Pam Durso: Executive Director of Baptist Woman in Ministry (BWIM), she is a strong, tireless advocate and resource for women serving in all areas of Christian ministry. Currently serving as adjunct faculty at McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, she edited and contributed to This Is What A Preacher Looks Like: Sermons by Baptist Women in Ministry. She and Rev. London serve together on the BWIM leadership team.
Rev. Dr. Traci Blackmon: Director of the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, she is an active campaigner for civil rights and the rights of women in the United States. She is the first woman pastor in the 156-year history of Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Missouri. A powerful voice for social change, she is a courageous and visionary leader in the Black Lives Matter movement, and she ministers to underserved women and children.
Pastor Dianne Dabney: Ordained through the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (P.A.W.) in the mid-nineties, she pastors Life N The Word Church in Houston, Texas. Overcoming obstacles, she has preached in many churches and in a prison ministry. She is also the founder of Helpers One to Another Ministries.
Rev. Dr. Gina M. Stewart: She overcame obstacles of sexism to become the first African American female pastor in Memphis, Tennessee. In addition to serving as pastor of Christ Missionary Baptist Church, she serves as Faculty Mentor for the United Theological Seminary Doctor of Ministry Program, Visiting Professor of Practical Theology for the Samuel D. Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, and Co-Convener for the Women in Ministry Conference. She was the first female to receive the Carter G. Woodson Award from Southwest Community College.
Pastor Julie Pennington-Russell: She was the first woman to pastor a Baptist church in Texas. On her first Sunday as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, people came from outside the city to protest in opposition to a woman pastor. Nevertheless, she became a prominent preacher, currently serving as pastor of The First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, D.C. Her sermons have been featured on television and radio broadcasts and at the Festival of Homiletics.
Rev. Dr. Cynthia L. Hale: Some people questioned her call to preach and she also struggled with her call because she hadn’t seen women preach. Nevertheless, she preached. And she became the founder and pastor of a Disciples of Christ church that now has 5000 members. She developed the national Women in Ministry Conference, was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships, and was inducted into the African American Biographies Hall of Fame.
Rev. Sharnelle Jones: She was in a church that doesn’t affirm women’s call to ordained ministry. Nevertheless, she claimed her call and was ordained by another church. She is a spiritual counselor and chaplain with Harbor Healthcare Hospice in Houston, Texas. She created “Be Great Now!,” a one-day event where five eleven-year-old girls spend four hours learning and exploring how to exercise their dreams and career goals.
Rev. Cheryl Young Archer: The pastor of her home church opposed her ordination. Nevertheless, she preached, and she served as Women’s Staff Chaplain of Harris County Jail in Houston for ten years. Founder and president of Mannequin Ministries, she reaches out to women in jails and prisons who have been abused. Having experienced healing from abuse herself, she brings healing to other women.
Rev. London had to leave right after her presentation to go back to Houston to minister to victims of Hurricane Harvey. We all gathered around her to pray that she would have strength and wisdom for this ministry. She says, “This was one of the most encouraging and loving moments in my entire ministry career.”