Southeastern Hosts First Cultivate Women’s Leadership Conference
Chad Burchett | March 29, 2022
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) hosts 650 attendees at the first Cultivate Women’s Leadership Conference on March 25–26. The event focused on equipping women to be on mission and grow in their God-given roles and responsibilities as leaders through training sessions, breakout talks, and a networking event.
“Our Cultivate Women’s Leadership Conference is an incredible opportunity for women to engage with and learn from Christian women from various spheres of leadership,” stated Missie Branch, Assistant Dean of Students to Women and Director of Graduate Life at SEBTS. “The conference seeks to equip women by teaching, training, and encouraging them to embrace the leadership roles and responsibilities that the Lord has given them to serve him in whatever context they are in, for His glory and for the hope and spread of the gospel.”
During the first plenary session on Friday, Karen Ellis addressed how Christ, the true and living Word, creates and animates the Christian woman’s unique identity and unique participation in his mission. Leading by the word, then, is a matter of identity, not merely a matter of method. Union with Christ means his mission is part of what it means to live as a woman of the word.
In the second plenary session, Melissa Kruger offered a theology of women in leadership. Kruger argued from Scripture that the church should understand women in leadership as (1) normative, (2) integrated into the church, (3) familial in nature, (4) servant-hearted, (5) costly, (6) worthy of honor, and (7) vital. As Kruger reminded attendees on Saturday morning, if half the church were not using its gifts, where would the body be?
For the third plenary session, Ruth Chou Simons encouraged women to lead with intentionality and contentment in their contexts, emphasizing that according to Ephesians 2:10 believers are created by God on purpose for a purpose. Simons urged women to find their voice by being faithful with what they already have. Her counsel to Christian women included stewarding the home, intentionally sowing gospel seeds, investing in and multiplying disciples, and seeking the community’s good.
For the fourth plenary session, Rosaria Butterfield offered testimony and counsel about women’s submission and leadership in the home. In addition to four plenary sessions, attendees were encouraged to attend several breakout sessions led by gifted women with experience and insight on various topics. Friday night also included a networking event where attendees were able to meet and encourage other women with similar ministry passions.
“In a season tossed around by constant cultural shifts, we were encouraged to discover together what it looks like to lead biblically in today’s age, considering the individual roles, gifts, and passions that God has given each of us,” noted Branch. With its emphasis on training women to love the truth and steward their gifts to fulfill the mission, the Cultivate Women’s Leadership Conference embodies the driving mission of SEBTS to equip believers to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission.