Men’s Bid Day pictures
Danford Lecture provides insight
President of Central Baptist Theological Seminary speaks at annual Danford Thomas LectureBy SARAH CAREY
Dr. Molly T. Marshall says that she became a feminist because of the writings of the Apostle Paul. Though her fellow male classmates in seminary quoted Paul’s teachings regarding the silence and submission of women, Marshall’s use of a “hermeneutic of suspicion” helped her find her place as a woman called by God to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.
Currently serving as the president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kan, Dr. Marshall firmly believes that “God wants the church to accept its daughters as well as its sons in ministry.” Using her own personal story, Dr. Marshall expressed the importance of vocation within the life of a follower of Christ.
While attending a church camp, Marshall was asked by her minister if she had ever considered working with young people. Though at that moment she believed that she was still a “young person,” Marshall discovered the call to ministry many years later. Though she was certain that she was called to the ministry, she wondered what this meant for her as a woman.
Coming from a Christian tradition that adhered to strict gender roles where men were “ministers” of music and women “directors” of children, Dr. Marshall made great strides within the religious community by becoming one of the first women to enter the Masters of Divinity program at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
From there, Dr. Marshall became a pastor in Carroll County, Ky., despite her application being rejected from many institutions stating that she did not have enough “ministry experience.” Through her personal journey into Christian ministry, Dr. Marshall was able to help Georgetown students see the importance of vocation in one’s life.
When considering one’s vocation, Dr. Marshall suggested that the key is listening. She emphasized that Christians are called by God to listen, especially to peers that surround the Christian community. If an individual asks “Have you considered…?,” then that question may be key to understanding one’s vocation. Using the example of a nurse that comforted patients after receiving a cancer diagnosis, Dr. Marshall claims that recognizing a passion or issue that makes one’s “heart rise up” can be the key to finding one’s vocation.
Through listening to the heart and those around them, Christians will then be able to find their place within the world. In addition to heeding advice given by others, those seeking their vocation must also rely upon the work of the Holy Spirit. Since the Spirit makes us “God’s own,” Christians need to rely on it in order to achieve “new levels of identity” within the body of Christ.
In concluding the Danford Lecture, Dr. Marshall instructed that vocation was for the whole body of Christians. She stated that “we [Christians] belong to everyone,” and that Christians must work for the good of each other. Not limited to those who are ministers or other workers within the church; vocation also extends to those with other talents too. Using a fitting quote from the television show “The Love Boat” to emphasize the importance of vocation to the service of others, Dr. Marshall concluded her meaningful lecture saying “You cannot refuse to dance… because your gifts belong to everyone.” For Central Baptist Theological Seminary’s president, vocation is not limited by one’s outer qualities, such as gender or race, but is enhanced by one’s ability to listen to others and to submit to the direction of the Holy Spirit.