ABHMS awards ‘Beyond the Stained-glass Ceiling’ grants

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 11/30/21)—American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) announces that co-preachers the Rev. Kamilah Hall Sharp and the Rev. Dr. Irie Lynne Session of The Gathering: A Womanist Church, Dallas, and Dr. Carol M. Garrett of the Historic Parsells Church, Rochester, N.Y., have been named recipients of the 2021 “Beyond the Stained-glass Ceiling” grants.

Expressing her excitement about the grant, Sharp said that such a grant is necessary for the world at this time. “More than ever, we need to support women in ministry in doing the work their souls are called to in service of the needs of our communities,,” she said. “It is an honor that those outside our community see the value in our work at The Gathering, A Womanist Church in Dallas, and invest in us. We appreciate the financial support, which will help lighten our financial burdens.”

Session, too, expressed thankfulness for the grant. “We are most certainly appreciative of the $5,000 that we were granted. It’s really helpful for us,” said Session. “I can speak for myself in that, because I do not have dental insurance, I was able to go and see a dentist.”

Garrett said that that she is excited about receiving the unexpected grant. “We’ll definitely do good things with it,” she said. “I plan on giving some of it back to the Stained-glass Ceiling Endowment Fund.”

The grants originated with the Rev. Chris Smith, pastor of Restoration Ministries of Greater Cleveland Inc. She established an endowed gift with ABHMS that supports at least two African American female pastors yearly who serve congregations of 300 or fewer members.

African American women in ministry are often called to economically depressed, small churches that are unable to pay a living wage. The Beyond the Stained-glass Ceiling Endowment Fund helps ABHMS to support, encourage and advocate for the well-being of Black and African American female pastoral leaders by helping to alleviate the economic challenges and related stress they face. It helps to ensure that those who are called to serve are equipped to serve.

Having herself recovered from financial struggle, Smith had a vision of providing support to African American women ministers who were leading small congregations, many struggling financially. Buoyed by this prophetic calling, Smith authored her groundbreaking book, “Beyond the Stained-glass Ceiling: Equipping and Encouraging Female Pastors” (Judson Press, 2013). Her experience is offered as a source of hope for pastors who are similarly striving to respond faithfully to God’s call while staying financially afloat.

Those who would like to support the Stained-glass Ceiling Endowment Fund can give online or mail a check with “Stained-glass Endowment” in the memo section to American Baptist Home Mission Societies, 1075 First Ave., King of Prussia, PA 19406.

For more information, visit https://abhms.org/stained-glass-endowment-fund/. Questions should be addressed to Vincent Dent, ABHMS’ chief development officer, at vincent.dent@abhms.org or 610.768.2420.

American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.

American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.