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Women gather at SBC to celebrate theological scholarship

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BY LAUREN PRATT   06/23/2021

Over 30 women gathered together in a spirit of gratitude and enthusiasm for how the Lord is bringing women together through scholarship across Southern Baptist seminaries.


Societies for Women in Scholarship across three Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) seminaries hosted the first meetup prior to the SBC annual meeting on June 14. Women from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS), Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS), and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) gathered to fellowship and connect with one another.   

These societies have provided a space for women in theological education to participate in theological discourse, present papers in preparation for doctoral work, and think through ministry in the local church.   

The first society within the SBC started at SEBTS in 2016 when students Amber Bowen and Bekah Stoneking started meeting over coffee for theological discussions and collaboration of ideas. As other women began entering into these conversations with them, they saw the need and desire for women to come together around theological scholarship. Now with over 25 members, SEBTS is continuing to spur on other seminaries around the country to create similar societies.    

Since the inception of the SEBTS society, two other societies have formed at SWBTS and NOBTS. Terri Stovall, Dean of Women and Professor of Women’s Ministries at SWBTS, explained that their group began on the cusp of COVID-19 halting its progress during the 2020-2021 school year. Their first meeting in March of 2020 hosted David Dockery with approximately 35 women in attendance. However, she’s hopeful and expectant prior to the SBC society meeting that it could be a re-launch for their society as they meet together and prepare for the fall.   

Stovall is excited for the ways in which God is using women in theological education at SWBTS and the greater SBC. “There are some really solid, strong, called, [and] gifted women doing amazing things, not just in ministry, but in the academy. [They are] speaking into things that will impact other people in a very positive and kingdom-focused way.”  

For NOBTS, its society launched in March of this year due to the pandemic. Yet, in a few short months the group is gaining traction with 58 members, comprised of both students and alumni. Emily Dean, Assistant Professor of Ministry to Women and Director of Women’s Academics and Organizations at NOBTS, noted that the group has begun workshops focused on writing and researching with plans of continuing these workshops into the fall semester. The first of those workshops featured Sandy Vandercook, Associate Dean of Leavell College and Professor of English and Education.     

In preparation for the SBC society meeting, Dean noted, “I think it's going to be a great opportunity for encouragement for networking with one another, and also highlighting what God is doing among women who are pursuing theological education in the SBC.”  

SEBTS and NOBTS are member-based, while SWBTS is not. Regardless of slight differences in structure, each society was built on the foundation of providing a space for women to discuss orthodoxy and orthopraxy in an environment where they are often the minority in the classroom. Each of these societies are preparing women to fulfill the Great Commission in their academic pursuits through academic preparation, mentorship, and professional development.   

“It was a joy to gather in a room full of like-minded women from sister seminaries,” said Julia Higgins, associate Dean of Graduate Program Administration and Assistant Professor of Ministry to women at SEBTS. “I’m sure we will look back on this first gathering of the Societies for Women in Scholarship from NOBTS, SEBTS, and SWBTS as a day that friendships were forged as we strive to fulfill the mission together.” 


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