Women Around Southeastern: a renewed focus on women’s discipleship
Lauren Pratt | September 28, 2017
“Our mission is to cultivate teachable, theological and missional women who are empowered to seek out and accomplish God’s calling on their lives, to faithfully make disciples and to fulfill the Great Commission.”
This is the mission statement of Women Around Southeastern, the recently rebranded name of the former Women’s Life office.
Missie Branch has been named assistant dean of students to women at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) and will be leading this rebrand to help disciple and equip women for ministry.
“We believe God has brought to us the perfect person in Missie Branch to fill the role of assistant dean of students to women,” said Mark Liederbach, vice president for student life. “Not only does she have a fire and passion for Christ, but she has the vision and God-given gifts to rally our ladies to greater excellence.”
Liederbach expressed that while there is excitement for the renewed vision in Women Around Southeastern, there is also tremendous gratitude for the role that Dr. Denise O’Donogue played as she led Women’s Life for many years.
“Denise led our Women’s Life program for the previous decade and did an outstanding job caring for our ladies, leading and teaching them as well as building the foundations for where we hope to go now that she has gone on to other ministry opportunities,” said Liederbach.
O’Donoghue formerly served at SEBTS as the director of Women’s Life and assistant professor for ministry to women. In July, O’Donoghue became the director of biblical womanhood and targeted learning at Academy 31, a Christian school for middle and high school girls that will open in Raleigh in 2018.
Branch initially began working at SEBTS in the summer as the student events coordinator before becoming the assistant dean of students to women. Her role will continue under the oversight of the student activities and discipleship office.
“It is my passion to see the women associated with this campus operating as a community, holding each other to a high biblical standard and being willing to go deep into each other’s lives to help see this accomplished,” said Branch.
Branch will also be working closely with Southeastern’s counseling office, a new service to promote emotional and spiritual wellbeing by providing counselors who can meet with students for 15 hours a week.
The new Women Around Southeastern website is already being constructed to help women at the school connect to all the resources available to them. The site will also include information about programs such as the Biblical Women’s Institute in certificate services coordinated by Laura Fylstra, discipleship of seminary women and seminary wives led by Cathy Horner, college discipleship led by Brittany Webb and Rebekah Callahan and mentorship to international women led by Chelsea West, according to Liederbach.
“As we look to move forward, it is our hope that the women who come to Southeastern will be equipped to lead Great Commission ministries in an increasingly diverse world,” said Liederbach.
Branch hopes to see Women Around Southeastern change the way female students connect by providing resources for them to be discipled and learn how to disciple others.
“This happens by equipping and empowering women to be leaders in their respective spheres of influence so that when they go, they do so prepared and excited to lead and serve as they represent Christ all over the globe,” said Branch.
Branch and her husband William, an assistant professor of preaching and Bible at The College at Southeastern, served as church planters for eight years in Philadelphia before moving to Wake Forest. They have five children and have lived in Wake Forest for four years. The Branch family attends Imago Dei Church.