Baptist Assembly recognised for speaker gender balance
Assembly and one other Christian conference had an equal gender representation among its main speakers in 2014, research has found.
Women and men shared the platform in equal numbers at last May's Baptist Assembly, the annual gathering jointly organised by the Baptist Union and BMS World Mission. The Church and Media Conference was the only other conference that recorded a 50-50 figure in the figures revealed by Project 3:28, which exists to see the UK church embrace gender justice, and whose name originates from Galatians 3:28.
Lynn Green, Baptist Union General Secretary, and David Kerrigan, BMS World Mission General Director, open the 2014 Baptist Assembly
On Tuesday (6 January) it published statistics on the gender of speakers at more than 20 Christian events and conferences. There was an overall improvement from 25 per cent female representation in 2013, to 34 per cent in last year.
The Assembly figure contrasts with that of 2013, when the gender balance statistics first began to be monitored. Then Assembly had a male/female ratio of 75-25 per cent.
Assembly spokesman Ian Bunce said Assembly had an intentional policy of bringing balance, “not just about gender but about age and ethnicity as well”.
Baptist minister Steve Holmes is a Project 3:28 collective member, and blogged about the new research. He said one of the most repeated comments about the statistics was “Don’t we want the best speakers?”
‘Yes. Yes we do;’ he wrote. ‘That’s most of the point. On the assumption (and it is an assumption, but it is one I believe to be well founded in Scripture) that God gives gifts to people regardless of gender, roughly half the ‘best’ speakers should be female, where ‘best’ = ‘most gifted’; if our platforms are 75% or 66% male, then we are not getting the ‘best’ speakers.’
Part of the problem is in a lack of experience, he continued. The best means most gifted and experienced, meaning the same names keep on being asked, ‘because they have learnt through long experience how to do it well, and because they are famous names and so draw the (paying) crowds.’
Intentional action is needed to make sure that those with the most potential, male or female, are given the chance to gain experience and so to develop into the ministry for which God has gifted them.’