Women Around Southeastern offers avenues for gospel-centered community
Lauren Pratt | January 07, 2021
Sarah Conrad and Megan Dickerson laugh as they recount how it felt to be new to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2018. The awkwardness of being new was made better by meeting each other and having lunch together their first week on campus.
“Sarah was my first friend here,” Megan recalled as the two sat at a picnic table on a sunny day on Southeastern’s west quad near Patterson Hall. Two years later, the two are not only good friends but are deeply involved in community life at the school.
Both Sarah and Megan initially moved up to Southeastern so their spouses could attend seminary. However, in the process the Lord ignited in them a heart to begin taking classes as well. Sarah completed the Biblical Women’s Institute certificate, and Megan is planning to apply for the Th.M. program this year.
Megan believes when it comes to finding community, you get out what you put in. Taking the initiative to get plugged in to the opportunities that Women Around Southeastern offered made all the difference.
One of the first steps both Megan and Sarah took was meeting together through Women Around Southeastern’s program, Multiply Her.
Multiply Her allows women to come alongside one another for discipleship as they seek to grow in their walk with Christ. Both experienced the value of having someone to process life with and finding encouragement through Scripture.
“I don’t have to pull myself up by my bootstraps because there are other people here to carry those burdens with me,” said Megan.
The beauty of the Multiply Her mentorship program is that it’s open to both female students and seminary wives and can be done in person or online. The ability to meet virtually for mentorship, which originally began due to COVID-19, is providing opportunities for women to connect in ways they would not have been able to previously.
So, what does applying for Multiply Her look like? Mentees fill out an application form at the Women Around Southeastern website and are given options of mentors. Mentors go through a brief training and are encouraged to focus the meetings on discipleship. However, how discipleship happens can vary. When Megan and Sarah started meeting, they went through “None Like Him,” by Jen Wilkin. Other mentorship relationships they’ve had included more structured studies through 1 and 2 Samuel and reading Jen Wilkin’s “Women of the Word,” to simply discussing life and praying for one another during a busy season.
One-on-one mentorship is not the only avenue for women’s discipleship at Southeastern. Women Around Southeastern staff also lead content-specific small groups ranging on topics such as sexual purity, spiritual disciplines and contentment.
Whether through one-on-one mentorship or small group discipleship, the goal remains the same. Everything is done with a focus to grow in Christ and connect with other women.
Women Around Southeastern also prepares women to engage in conversations on current issues in the culture through coffee talks offered each semester. Both Sarah and Megan found these conversations refreshing coming from churches that previously did not encourage discussing controversial issues or expressing dissenting opinions. Coffee talks in the past have covered issues such as racial injustice, the #MeToo Movement and feminism. Missie Branch, assistant dean of students to women, describes the small group setting as “a safe place for your ignorance.”
“We find that women are looking for that opportunity to learn and to hear different perspectives,” said Branch. As students are seeking to share the gospel in an ever-changing culture, it’s important that they understand how to winsomely engage others with the gospel by addressing the current issues happening around them. Coffee Talks are part of this preparation women get to be a part of. It’s a place to address questions, hear other viewpoints and understand current issues holistically through a gospel-centered lens.
“We challenge women each time to not just have the conversation here, but to see themselves as leaders and to go and take this into their own sphere of influence,” said Branch.
At Southeastern, professors are leading with a pastoral heart as they teach female students inside and outside of the classroom. Theological Huddles provide a space for women to walk through a passage of Scripture with a professor. These Bible studies provide both devotional and hermeneutical lenses with which to understand books of the Bible. In the fall, each Theological Huddle focused on a different section of Jonah, and each session was taught by different professors.
“You can tell they love God’s people, so it’s just sweet to get to go,” said Megan.
Women Around Southeastern’s 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. To learn more about ways to get involved, visit womenaroundse.com.