Women’s award leaves recipient ‘truly speechless, which is quite a feat’

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) - A new award representing women in Christian leadership was presented Tuesday at the Kentucky Baptist Convention Annual Meeting.

The Women in Christian Leadership Award was given to Garnetta Smith, director of Center for Student Success at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Smith also served on the KBC Executive Director-Treasurer Search Team this past year, culminating in Dr. Todd Gray’s selection as the new executive director-treasurer in August.

The new award was created to recognize a woman who has demonstrated faithfulness and excellence in answering and carrying out God’s calling to serve others in the name of Christ.

Gray said the purpose is “to identify and encourage Kentucky Baptist women who are faithfully answering God’s call on their life.”

Gray, who was instrumental in the inception of the award, explained the motivation behind it.

“In a Pastor Well Podcast, with Dr. Herschel York and Jen Wilkin, I heard Jen Wilken say that we have helped women understand what they can’t do in ministry, but we may not have helped them understand what they can do,” he said. “Having two daughters who desire to serve Jesus with their life, I want to make sure Kentucky Baptist women are seeing models of faithful Christian women fulfilling a calling from God that is consistent with Scripture.”

Dr. Matthew Hall, Provost at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said, “The Women in Christian Leadership Award is a timely way for Kentucky Baptists to rightly honor those godly women who God has raised up to serve our churches in significant ways. Our cooperating churches are full of godly women who sacrificially give of their talents, energies, and time to serve in varied and biblical capacities. I pray a generation of young Christian women will be inspired by their example.”

Smith is well-known for being such a faithful Christian woman and was deemed by Gray the ideal recipient.

Mary Mohler, wife of SBTS President Dr. Albert Mohler, was also pleased to hear Garnetta was the recipient.

“It has been my honor to call Garnetta Smith my friend for about two decades now,” she said. “She joyfully fulfills many roles. I know her to be a faithful friend, dedicated seminary staffer, committed local church member, gifted teacher in our Seminary Wives Institute program as well as a being a graduate student herself. She is a tireless volunteer on any number of committees, including many for the KBC.”

When she found out she was receiving this award, Smith said she was “truly speechless, which is quite a feat.”

She continued by saying she was “truly humbled” to receive this award.

“This award is the evidence of immeasurable grace from One who deserves all the honor to one who is not worthy apart from Him,” Smith said. “God has gifted women for specific leadership roles in the local church, educational institutions, and denominational service. The woman who led me to Christ nearly 29 years ago told me not to seek positions of leadership because when God had me ready, He would let someone know. I have not always felt I was ready for a leadership position, but God was faithful to surround me with those from whom I could learn.”

Smith offered this advice: “It's important to remember that we are Christians first, and leaders second. We cannot be a Christian leader without first being a Christian. I encourage women to minister and lead faithfully where they are for the glory of God, to please him and to be students of God's Word.”

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