Faculty Q&A with Denise O’Donoghue

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Denise O'DonoghueDenise O’Donoghue is the director of Women’s Life and assistant professor of ministry to women at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS). She shares how God called her into theological education and how she seeks to equip women to fulfill the Great Commission.

1. Tell us about yourself. 

I’m a North Carolina girl—I’ve lived here almost my whole life. My husband Rod and I have been married 40 years. We have two married daughters, who have blessed us with five grandsons. One daughter, son-in-law, and four grandsons presently live in Georgia, but move a lot because her husband serves in the U.S. Army. The other daughter, son-in-law, and newest grandson live in Sri Lanka because of her husband’s job. We don’t get to see any of them as often as we’d like!

I earned my undergraduate degree in computer information systems and worked in the corporate world for 25 years before I came to SEBTS. 

2. How did you come to SEBTS? 

During a time when I was serving as the women’s ministry coordinator at my church and as a discussion leader for Bible Study Fellowship, the Lord, through Bible study and prayer, revealed His desire for me to continue my education by attending seminary. I wasn’t interested in going back to school! To make a long story short, my job moved to Texas without me. This, along with some other “circumstances,” were things the Lord used to move me to obedience. Initially, I earned my Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling from Southeastern. After I graduated, I was offered a job in the Women’s Life Office. Through teaching in the Biblical Women’s Institute, I discovered a love for teaching and went on to earn my Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) from SEBTS as well.

3. What do you do at Southeastern?

My official titles are “Director of Women’s Life and Assistant Professor of Ministry to Women.” Our office leads many of the initiatives for women at Southeastern. I also have the privilege of teaching women.

4. On what are you currently working?

One project currently brewing in my head is to create a number of short videos for our website and social media platforms that attempt answer questions women may be too embarrassed to ask or not know who to ask. We’re focusing particularly on issues regarding purity and sexuality.

5. When you get home from work, what do you look forward to doing?

I always love spending time with my husband and our dog, George. When given the opportunity, I love spending time with our grandchildren. It is especially fun for me to hang out with the grandsons since my only sibling is a girl and I had two daughters. Boys are just fun! I also enjoy quilting, which was passed down to me by my grandmothers. 

6. Who are your role models?

I really enjoy learning from my peers. Because I am relatively new to women’s ministry as a profession, I learn from others who have been at it longer than I have. I am blessed to be a part of the Seminary Women’s Network, so I regularly look to women like Chris Adams, Kathy Litton, Lori McDaniel, and many others. 

7. What has God been teaching you lately?

My husband and I recently changed churches—from a more traditional church to a church plant. The church plant is very focused on community, so the Lord has been teaching us what it means to live in genuine community with others. 

8. Where are some of your former students?

We have women all over the world serving in a variety of roles: women’s ministry, student ministry, crisis pregnancy centers, missions, and many other areas of service for the kingdom. 

9. When a student completes your class, what do you want him or her to walk away with at the end of the semester? 

I want her to be a woman who looks at other women and asks, “How should the Great Commission inform their lives and what is my role?” 

10. We always say that every classroom at SEBTS is a Great Commission classroom. What does that look like for your class?

Women must first pursue personal discipleship – if that is not in place, then ministry is on shaky ground. We equip women to share their faith in group settings and teach them to counsel other women, pointing them to Jesus. Counseling is “intense discipleship,” and is a vital part of the Great Commission.

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