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Called Conference 2019

Called Conference Equips Women Ministry Leaders

  • Linda Piepenbrink
  • April 23, 2019

The Called conference on April 6, 2019, drew 1,000 women to Moody Bible Institute from as far away as Florida and Oregon, gleaning ministry and leadership insights from keynote speakers including best-selling author Jill Briscoe.

A preconference dinner and Q & A panel included Briscoe and four Moody alumni: Dr. Pam (Kistler) MacRae ’79, MA ’02 (moderator), Christy Spader ’12Bex Rowlands ’13, and Kristin Jacobsen ’09. The panel answered questions about women in ministry and reaching the next generation.

Dr. MacRae, program head for Ministry to Women at Moody, organized the third annual conference around the theme “Taking women deeper in a shallow world.” Many women in ministry leadership positions have never had the opportunity to be trained with college-level ministry skills, she said. “The women were grateful to have teaching that really draws them to the Lord and helps them with what they’re doing in ministry. I think it’s really a heart cry of so many women.”

Dr. Pam MacRae

Dr. Pamela MacRae gives an informational workshop about the Certificate of Ministry to Women program through Moody Bible Institute Distance Learning.

Judy Graf from Bartlett, Illinois, attended Called with her daughter, Natalie Oesch. “I really feel like God is working in me, for sure, and really reminding me of things that I need to check about my heart and ministry in general, being a good witness for Him,” said Graf. She was amazed to hear that 1,000 women came to Called this year, from 500 last year. “That’s incredible to me. It shows that Jesus is still alive and well, and working in a lot of people’s lives.”

Natalie Oesch, a local pastor’s wife who meets with a women’s group at her church and holds a weekly “life group” in her home, said, “For me, since I am still kind of new to ministry, feeling the sense of camaraderie with other women has been really meaningful—to hear their thoughts and heart, and to be able to learn and not feel alone, with all of us wanting to pursue Christ. It’s encouraging and inspiring to be around other women.”

“We have women desiring to be equipped,” said Kristin Jacobsen ’09, a pastor’s wife since she graduated from Moody with her Ministry to Women degree and now director of women’s ministry at Bethel Church in Crown Point, Indiana. “Whether it’s lay leadership or official leadership positions, women want to know how to teach, how to influence others, how to engage in meaningful ministry and to have the skills to do it,” said Jacobsen, who taught an overflowing two-part workshop, “Deep Small Groups in a Shallow World.” 

Kristin says her Moody education equipped her well for women’s ministry, especially her class notes from Dr. Winfred Neely. “I’ve so relied on them for how to handle God’s Word well and to be able to teach my women how to do that too, so we can equip more than just me to teach, but women in our midst—how to prepare a message, how to find the big idea of the text, how to develop illustrations and applications, and all of that,” she said. 

Christy Spader’12, who uses her Ministry to Women degree to serve full-time with Cru, taught a workshop on making disciples. “Women are just hungry to learn. There are not many women’s conferences that are equipping women; they are more about building women.” What’s the difference? “Building women is more about teaching them as they’re growing in their intimacy in Christ, but equipping is developing women to do the work of ministry,” she explained. “There’s something under the surface, that women don’t just want to know God, they want to do God’s work, making disciples.” 

One first-time attendee, Odun Oketona, came to the conference seeking information for starting a women’s ministry. “It was very helpful,” she said, after attending a workshop on how to build a biblical ministry to women. “It helps you to really find out, what are you talking about when you say women’s ministry,” said Odun, who serves with her husband, Gbenga, pastoring The Potter’s Place, a church in Bolingbrook, Illinois. “By God’s grace, I look forward to the next Called conference, and will hopefully bring other people with me.” 

Many women attended a workshop by Dr. Lina AbuJamra, a Bible teacher and pediatric ER doctor, who challenged women to identify their God-given calling and overcome the obstacles to living it out. Abujamra, who encourages Moody Radio listeners daily on Today’s Single Christian, said the Called conference was vital. “It’s irreplaceable to be around people from other churches and talk about how God works, specifically as leaders of ministry. I think that what God does in you will impact how He works through you once you go back to your various circles of service, and I really think it’s a rejuvenating and renewing time that every leader needs.”

Jill Briscoe, the 84-year-old executive editor of Just Between Us, shared fascinating stories and spiritual advice from a long life of ministry. She spoke of her conversion in her home country of England, her experiences as a high-profile pastor’s wife in Wisconsin, and the prayerfully creative ideas she has implemented to get unchurched people to come and hear the gospel, such as a thank-you dinner for hair stylists. 

Briscoe ended the conference with a session that challenged the women to say “Yes, Lord” to obediently meeting Jesus in His Word every day and serving Him wherever He leads. “Will you yield yourself from this day on?” she asked. “Receive the Spirit’s call. Say ‘Jesus, I give it all to you, not half my heart, my all.’”

Get Equipped with a Ministry to Women Online Certificate

Do you want to become equipped for women’s ministry? Pursue Moody’s Ministry to Women Online Certificate. “It’s a great opportunity to take seven courses online with other likeminded ministry leaders who want more education and equipping for ministry,” MacRae says. 

About the Author

  • Linda Piepenbrink

Linda Piepenbrink is managing editor of Moody Alumni News and senior editor for Moody’s Marketing Communications department.