For the past several years, Dr. Christy Hill has traveled the U.S. to teach leadership classes for women. Her work is evidence of a successful partnership between Grace Theological Seminary, where Dr. Hill is a faculty member, and Women of Grace USA, the women’s ministry organization of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches.
The classes cover topics such as spiritual formation, women and scripture, biblical foundations of leadership, principles of effective Bible study and teaching ministry, Bible study and interpretation skills applied to a teaching ministry, soul care in leadership, and equipping others for ministry. They are geared just for women.
The classes, part of the Center for Women’s Leadership Studies, are offered as a certificate program. Women may also choose to incorporate the classes into a master’s program with additional coursework.
They have been held in various parts of the country, with women often crisscrossing the continent to participate in a weekend course. They have been held in Ohio, California, and Maryland, in addition to Indiana. For the first time, one will be offered this fall in Alaska.
There has also been a request for the classes in Hispanic and Haitian communities, asking that they be taught in Spanish, French, or Creole.
“There’s been more demand than she [Dr. Hill] is able to handle,” noted Viki Rife, director-elect at Women of Grace USA, who currently serves as director of Girls’ Ministries and communications director.
This week, 11 women gathered at Grace Seminary in Winona Lake, Ind., to learn how to facilitate the classes. Previously, the women completed each class in the series, including extra coursework, and many have felt the call of God to help empower women to be all they can be in Jesus Christ.
“When women are affirmed and allowed to go deeper than they have gone before, it gives them dignity, and it gives them a sense of real purpose,” said Sharon MacMillan, who serves on the Women of Grace USA board. “This is God’s way of looking at women. He wants us to go deeper for His glory.”
For some who participated this week, the course was a confirmation of a calling. Amanda Paragon remembers feeling a pause when she received the invitation to enroll. She was directing the children’s ministries at Capital City Grace in Columbus, Ohio (Eric Miller, lead pastor), yet she was feeling a tug toward developing a women’s ministry in the church. She enrolled at the encouragement of her husband and her pastors, and, within a month, someone else had stepped up to oversee the children’s ministry.
Rosa Munoz, Atlanta, Ga., hopes to facilitate the leadership classes in Spanish to women in Hispanic Grace Brethren churches. “It’s been wonderful,” she said.
“We learned the importance of being a team,” stressed MacMillan, from Tracy, Calif. “We’re not going to be solo, we’re not going to be mavericks, like we’re maybe used to functioning. The Holy Spirit is with us, and God is sending us and gifting us,” she added. “We are not alone. That takes a lot of the fear away, and I think that will bring a higher competence to the teaching. For that reason, it’s been very valuable.”