In 1990, a small group of women were invited to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for the first Women’s Leadership Consultation (WLC). Current Southwestern first lady Dorothy Patterson was part of this initial group of women who had a shared commitment to equip women for kingdom ministries. This one-time event quickly developed into an established conference, rotating annually between the six Southern Baptist seminaries.

The 2009 WLC reconvened on the campus of Southwestern Seminary Feb. 5-7, where the conference began 19 years earlier. Patterson and Terri Stovall, dean of women’s programs at Southwestern, decided the theme for 2009 would be: “Count It All Joy: Living, Serving, Leading in Difficult Times” from James 1:2-4.

“We began to see women who were faithful followers wanting to know how to deal with the trials that come our way in the manner that God wants,” Stovall says. However, “we never knew that once the time of the conference arrived that our nation would be at a place where few of us are untouched by difficulties.”

Featured speakers included Iris Blue, Jenny Broughton and Florence Littauer, who Patterson says are “some of the women I most admire” for their dedication to God in tough times. Though these women come from diverse backgrounds, each of their testimonies revolves around finding delight in God in the midst of adversity. Breakout sessions highlighted tracks including the family, the home, serving and leading and were taught by women ranging from lay leaders to women’s studies scholars from across the country.

Southwestern offered several continuing education workshops and courses as optional supplements to the conference. Women could take Ministry in the Home, Introduction to Women’s Ministry or Biblical Counseling for Women for academic credit or attend a pre-conference workshop by Littauer on public speaking.

Katie McCoy, chosen with Sarah Bubar, Gabrielle Pickle and Misti Poulos in Fall 2008 to be WLC seminary student interns, said having a team with “different gifts and strengths plus the same servant-hearted spirit” gave her invaluable hands-on ministry experience.

“I will never again sit at a conference without saying a prayer of thanks for the hard workers behind the scenes,” Pickle said. “This opportunity has taught me that big things can be accomplished for the Kingdom with just a handful of dedicated people who use their talents for Kingdom work.”

Watching women from various walks of life come together to learn and apply biblical truth provides testimony of the SBC’s commitment to support women in spiritual growth and ministry involvement.  In the midst of building friendships, Patterson feels each woman was “stretched, encouraged and equipped for future service to Christ.”