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More than 300 Black female minsters attended the first Black Women in Ministry International Awards Gala at the National Press Club in Washington, DC last month. Twenty outstanding She-roes were recognized in an attempt to mentor Black female clergy, who will lead the future of a predominantly male led profession. Some of the honorees: Dr. Ammie L. Davis, first African American female President of Turner Theological Seminary, Dr. Gina Stewart, first Black woman to lead a Baptist missions’ agency, and Elder Debra Morton, the First Lady of the 1.3 million-member Full Gospel Movement.

Dr. Lynn Brinkley, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, was also honored. Brinkley serves as an associate minister at First Baptist Church, an adjunct professor for Campbell University’s Divinity School, on staff at Campbell University’s Christian Studies Department, and an Associate Director of Baptist Women in Ministry. She is the author of Manners and Money: A Manual on Preaching Etiquette as well.

Reverend Doctor Suzan D. Johnson Cook hosted the Gala.  Cook is a President Obama appointee who served as the first woman and first African American Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom and was the first woman president of the Hampton Ministers Conference. The first Black Women in Ministry Center was named in honor of Cooke on the campus of Virginia Union University.

The R.E.A.L. (relationship building, equipping and expanding, access and leadership and legacy development) Black Women in Ministry Thrive Initiative, funded by the Lilly Endowment and co-sponsored by the Global Black Women’s Chamber of Commerce, sponsored the event.  The initiative is part of a continuing effort to provide “Black women ministers with affirmation and acclamation through a program that pairs five dozen women in mentee-mentor duos”.