Women pack room for “Tea at 3”

Organizers say well-attended event will return for 2016 meeting

COLUMBUS—The first ever ‘Tea at 3’ held during this year’s annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention had women arriving early and lining up outside the door before the event began. Once inside, it was standing room only as nearly 200 women filled every open space to share tea, scones and fellowship.

Dorothy Patterson, wife of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) president Paige Patterson, said she was “overwhelmed by the response of Southern Baptist women” to the afternoon tea event hosted by the seminary.

“I am more convinced than ever that woman-to-woman connections are the most important thing we have in Southern Baptist life,” said Patterson, who also serves as professor of theology in women’s studies at the seminary.

Women of all ages from across the globe and the denomination were represented by those participating in the tea, including women from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, the Women’s Missionary Union, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, LifeWay Christian Resources and GuideStone Financial Resources, in addition to women from established churches, church plants, international mission fields and domestic mission fields.

Robin Walker, a messenger from Briensburg Baptist Church in Benton, Ky, said she enjoyed the event so much that she intends to come next year to the tea which Patterson said the seminary plans to host at the 2016 annual meeting in St. Louis, Mo.

“I thought it was really great,” Walker said. “I liked just hearing the speakers and getting the resources and fellowshipping with new friends.”

Nine publishers contributed to the resource giveaways, sending women home with stacks of books geared toward womanhood and women’s ministry.

Shannon Baker, a member of North Arundel Church in Glen Burnie, Md., said she, too, enjoyed the new event.

“I loved it. I really liked how quick the pace was and how they gave great information about each one of the different areas,” said Baker. “I really loved that capstone question at the end of each talk, because it really did summarize everything, and it was something we could walk out of the room with and apply to our lives.”

Baker said she would recommend the tea to women who might consider attending next year.

“Definitely come if you can, and come early,” Baker said. “Just come and enjoy the fellowship with other women because we don’t get that often.”

Kristy Carr, adult resource team leader for the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) and a representative of New Hope Publishers—one of three lines of business that supports the ministry of the WMU—said it was her pleasure to contribute resources to the event on behalf of the WMU and to speak during one of the three-minute “connection points.”

“I was very, very thankful to be a part of it,” Carr said. “It seems to be a great connection for women.”

Also among those offering three-minute connection points were SWBTS assistant professor of theology in women’s studies, Candi Finch; author and wife of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary president Chuck Kelley, Rhonda Kelley; wife of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary president Jeff Iorg, Ann Iorg; LifeWay senior lead women’s ministry specialist Chris Adams; author and wife of GuideStone president O.S. Hawkins, Susie Hawkins; and church planting wife and author, Christine Hoover.

The connection points touched on a variety of topics from personal study and education to serving as a minister’s wife and leaving comfort behind to serve on the mission field.

At the end of each woman’s three minutes, SWBTS Dean of Women’s Programs Terri Stovall asked a final summary question, allowing each speaker to offer a fast tidbit of information to attendees.

When asked about her number one study tool, Finch, who talked about the importance of being a life-long learner, told women how to have “the best quiet time.”

“The best quiet time to have,” Finch said, “is the one you actually have.”

She said women cannot expect to pour into others without letting the Word of God pour into them first.

When asked about her number one teaching tip, Kelley, who served as managing editor of The Women’s Study Bible, published in 1995 by Thomas Nelson, touted the importance of the primary source—Scripture. Before consulting what others say about a topic or a passage, she said, women first should consult Scripture itself.

When asked about the best way to teach children the importance of missions, Carr said to model it.

“Whatever you put as a priority in your life is what you’re instilling in them,” Carr said.

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