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From Associated Baptist Press:

A total of 104 churches reported inviting a woman to preach in February for an annual promotion both to celebrate and educate congregations about women in ministry.

Pam Durso, executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, said churches in 18 states and the District of Columbia participated in the 2010 Martha Stearns Marshall Month of Preaching.

Durso said the influential 18th-century Baptist woman preacher for whom the event is named — largely forgotten by many historians — “would be proud” of the response, which has grown from 55 churches since the first year of observance in 2007.

First Baptist Church of Williams in Jacksonville, Ala., which has welcomed women preachers for many years, participated formally in Martha Stearns Marshall Month for the second time.

“In our church we believe that God can call anyone to the ministry and to serve, and so we take this opportunity to support the calling of women to ministry,” Pastor Mike Oliver said while introducing Terri Byrd, associate coordinator of Alabama Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

For the first time, this year Martha Stearns Marshall Day was observed outside of the United States. Lauren Colwell, associate minister for spiritual formation and families at First Baptist Church in Savannah, Ga., preached through an interpreter at Iglesia Bautista Genesaret in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba.

Colwell said she was apprehensive at first about getting a clear and relevant message across in English, but those fears were dispelled when, with her limited Spanish, she heard how well the woman translator communicated not only her content but also matched the tone, inflection and emphasis in her delivery. Colwell called it a “powerful experience” to share the act of preaching in two languages before her church’s sister congregation in Cuba.

Englewood Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo., invited two female students from nearby William Jewell College to preach. In his welcome to worship, Pastor Micah Pritchett recalled how small churches in Texas helped him get started in ministry by giving him an opportunity to preach while he was in seminary.

“Those little country churches play an important role in preparing young ministers for ministry, but most of those little churches won’t invite a woman to come preach,” Pritchett said. “Young women don’t get those opportunities that I had. Today we are saying that we support women in ministry — not just in theory, but in a very practical way as we bless and encourage these two young women as they explore God’s call on their lives.”

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