Using her ministry skills in West Texas: Women’s Ministry is a natural fit for Melissa Meredith

Southcrest Baptist Church Lubbock TX

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the Spring 2024 issue of Southwestern News.

Growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with parents who were believers, Melissa Meredith (’13) says it’s natural that she, too, would come to the Lord.

Her father was a former music and youth pastor, and her mother discipled her at the family’s kitchen table.

“I saw the love of the Lord played out every single day in our home,” she says. Meredith, director of the women’s ministry at Southcrest Church in Lubbock, said she’s a product of the mentorship and discipleship of women who taught her to love the Bible.

While Meredith’s family attended a few churches as she was growing up, she calls First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow her home church. Her father baptized her at Liberty Baptist Church in Tulsa when she was 8 years old, and she “just really fell in love with the Lord.” She “fell in love with God’s Word” in sixth grade during an Experiencing God Bible study with her church youth group.

“I was really shy growing up,” she says. “I was the quiet girl in every group.” Still, she felt that God was calling her to full-time ministry.

Meredith surrendered to that call at Falls Creek, a Baptist youth camp in Davis, Oklahoma, the summer she turned 16. She remembers walking down the aisle of the amphitheater and seeing her mother’s best friend who happened to be serving as a counselor down in front of the stage. As she approached, Meredith says, the woman told her it was “about time” she surrendered, because they had all seen her calling.

“Having somebody else who knew me, who knew my family, who knew my story, see that and proclaim that over me was really powerful,” Meredith says, adding that the woman is still a mentor to her today.

Oklahoma native and 2013 Southwestern Seminary Master of Divinity graduate, Melissa Meredith, uses the ministry skills she learned at the Fort Worth-based institution, in addition to her personal experience with mentoring, to serve the women at Southcrest Baptist Church in Lubbock, Texas, as the director of women’s ministries.

Meredith studied Christian education at Hannibal-LaGrange University in Missouri. About to graduate and unsure what she was going to do next, Meredith was helping set up a seminary fair for her local church and decided to walk through the tables.

“Southwestern was the only one that had a brochure specifically for women and about the different programs they have for women,” Meredith says. She picked up the brochure and still has it to this day.

Meredith earned her Master of Divinity in women’s studies from Southwestern Seminary in 2013 and has fond memories of her classes and professors.

“They taught me to sit in Scripture with awe and wonder and hold it and read it exegetically and in context, and they developed [in me] really a love for God’s Word even more than I had,” she recalls.

Her classes at Southwestern also have been beneficial in her current ministry, Meredith adds, teaching her how to “share life well.” She said professors invested in and walked alongside her and taught her to “look for those one or two people that I can pour into and invest in” through her own ministry.

Meredith singled out classes with Terri Stovall (’91, ’01, ’12), dean of women, interim associate dean of the Jack D. Terry School of Educational Ministries, and professor of educational ministries. She says she has kept all her binders from Stovall’s classes and uses them to help inspire her for projects in her current ministry.

Stovall has fond memories of her former student as well. She notes that Meredith had left Southwestern to take care of her mother who was ill, and after her mother passed away, Stovall contacted Meredith about an opening for a director of Southwestern’s Horner House, which was shifting from an academic building to housing the women’s ministry program.

“She was the first person I thought of,” Stovall says, adding that Meredith worked for her for several years. When the women’s ministry position at Southcrest opened up, “I was very excited for her because I felt like it was a perfect fit for her,” Stovall adds. “She’s such a people-focused person across all ages and a discipler, and I just thought that would be the perfect place for her.”

Meredith, director of women’s ministries at Southcrest Baptist Church in Lubbock, says her week is “full of helping women in crisis” which can range from women who find themselves homeless, to women trying to leave an abusive situation, or women trying to figure out their next step in life.

Stovall says one of her goals is to connect Southwestern students to women in a variety of ministry settings to show them the many opportunities available to them. She points to Meredith as an example to her students who are single women who wonder if they’ll be able to take care of themselves. She said Meredith, a single woman who moved to West Texas on her own, shows that “God is providing for that, and she’s also using her gifts for the Kingdom, and so it gives women hope that God’s definitely going to use them.”

Meredith believes her passion for women’s ministry started as a teen when her mother began writing a Bible study curriculum and conference curriculum for teenage girls and women. Her mother would take Meredith around as she taught the curriculum and shared it with churches.

“I just remember feeling so proud as I watched her teach and use her giftings,” Meredith remembers.

It also was a ministry they could do together, as her mother brought Meredith in to share her thoughts as she was writing.

“And so when I went to college, I thought I would be going into mission work full time, and just through the Holy Spirit and God’s leading, that really honed it in to women’s ministry,” she recounts.

Meredith explains her role at Southcrest has given her the opportunity to connect with women whom she might not have crossed paths with otherwise. As one of the largest churches in the Lubbock area, she says, Southcrest is “kind of a lighthouse” to the community, drawing people from all walks of life.

“My week is full of helping women in crisis,” she said. Those crises can range from women who find themselves homeless, to women trying to leave an abusive situation, or women trying to figure out their next step in life. The ministry also partners with other Lubbock churches to help women who are serving jail sentences or who are survivors of sex trafficking. The ministry also partners with New Legacy Home of Lubbock, which serves women who are leaving prison, recovering from addiction, or seeking a positive change in their lives.

In addition to serving on the staff of her Lubbock-area church, Meredith is the volunteer West Texas representative on the women’s ministry team for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC). In this role, Meredith chairs the social media team, and is one of 14 volunteers who write, train, and hold and speak at conferences.

Katrina Ballantine, director of organizational development and director of the communications team at Southcrest, says Meredith is “probably one of the most intentional people I know,” adding that she has been “really intentional in how she set up her ministry and how she connects with all of the women there.”

Meredith has ensured that the women’s ministry includes discipleship programs and events for women of all ages, Ballantine says, adding that Meredith is “cross-generational, so she sees the benefit of how the older generations can pour into the younger, and vice-versa.”

Ballantine describes Meredith as “an empathetic soul” who has been able to make women feel seen and heard, “especially women who might not feel that way in other spaces, in traditional church spaces. So we’ve just seen an outpouring of that where she’s been able to connect with people who we might not have been able to connect with before.”

Meredith has ministered to her as well, Ballantine says, adding, “The fact that her door’s always open and I’m able to come in and just be myself and be honest with her is a real gift.”

Laura Taylor (’88), the women’s ministry associate for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, also sees Meredith as a gift. Taylor leads a team of 14 volunteers across the state who teach, write material, hold conferences, and speak at conferences. As the women’s ministry’s West Texas representative, Meredith does all that in addition to serving as chair of the social media team.

Taylor says Meredith is “an exceptional communicator” who is able to connect with women of all generations. She adds that Meredith’s skills and “bubbly” personality provide a good representation for the ministry’s work in West Texas.

“It is fabulous, because I can’t be everywhere, and I don’t want to be,” Taylor explains. “You know, any ministry that’s limited to one person is very limited. So I’m so grateful for her and for the other team members that can minister using the tools that we created to reach more women across the state, because, you know, Texas is a big place.”

Taylor says she appreciates Meredith’s help, whether it’s working to solve a problem or creating a tool that will minister to Gen Z women. She adds that Meredith seems to instinctively know what other women are struggling with and how to meet their needs. She also has a really good knowledge of the Word of God and shares it well, Taylor says.

“I don’t know what we’d do without her in West Texas,” Taylor says, noting that Meredith has the women of Southcrest involved in missions, discipleship, and Bible study.

“She’s rocking it,” Taylor says. “She’s a gift, for sure.”

As a minister, Meredith doesn’t have a lot of free time because “ministry is 24/7,” she notes, adding it makes her appreciate the “level of relational equity” Southwestern’s professors gave to their students.

“Looking back and realizing how much that they poured into us really means a lot,” she says, adding that the relationships didn’t end with graduation.

When she does find free time, Meredith says she loves writing, on her own blog and for publications. She also loves to travel.

“I am always up for a good adventure and road trip,” she adds. She also enjoys spending time with her family in Oklahoma.

“I’m an ‘aunt to four.’ That’s one of my favorite titles in the whole world, ‘aunt to four,’” Meredith says, adding that she enjoys going to their sporting events and doing other fun things with them.

Meredith says that when she looks back over her life, she is grateful for her time at Southwestern Seminary.

“The investment and every, every part of it God used to grow and shape me into the minister I am today,” she says.

Meredith says women’s ministry is important to her because of its emphasis on women helping each other grow.

“I think that that’s why it’s really special to me is that I’m a product of that mentorship and discipleship,” she concludes. “I’m a product of the Great Commission being lived out in women’s lives, and so to be able to serve in a local church and to gather women and to teach them God’s Word, and to teach them how to mentor and disciple other women, it’s me carrying on the legacy that was given to me by other women who were faithful and who loved the Lord and who walked as women worthy of the Lord.”

Karen Garcia is a news writer for Southwestern News.