“The work starts with a ‘yes.’ And you will be amazed by where a ‘yes’ to God will take you… The steps of a good man or woman are ordered by the Lord.”
Those words from keynote speaker Dr. Gina M. Stewart, pastor of Christ Missionary Baptist Church and the first African-American female in Shelby County elected to pastor a Baptist church, set the stage for Stewart and 11 other female pastors to be honored as the “12 Most Outstanding Women in Ministry” Saturday April 2) at Grace M. B. Church.
The designation was presented by Memphis Inter-Denominational Fellowship.
During her speech, Dr. Stewart drew from the biblical story of Esther.
“Who would have thought that Esther, the orphan, would live in the king’s palace?”
She added, the women in ministry “are still here,” though some would say that pastors should be men. She praised Evangelist Nettie Rogers for being a visionary who blazed trails for those coming after her.
The Memphis Inter-Denominational Fellowship was founded in 1968, the same year Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis.
Founder Evangelist Nettie B. Rogers began the “12 Most Outstanding Women” as the signature program to honor local women doing extraordinary things.
The inaugural honor lauded the accomplishments of “12 Most Outstanding Women in Our City.’”
This year’s honorees were “12 Most Outstanding Women in Ministry.”
Evangelist Rogers had a great vision for her nonprofit organization. She wanted to build spiritual strength and moral fiber throughout Memphis communities through Christian education, fight the onslaught of crime and juvenile delinquency, and improve race relations.
Her daughter, Dr. Inetta F. Rogers, took the helm of the ministry in 2005. Evangelist Rogers died in 2009.
“MID (Memphis Inter-Denominational Fellowship) is thrilled to honor these exceptional women in ministry,” Dr. Rogers said. “We are equally excited to honor the founder with the unveiling of a memoir I wrote: ‘The Evangelist: The Memoir of Nettie B. Rogers.’ Evangelist Rogers was a trailblazer, a history maker, and a woman of stamina.”
Also honored in the 2022 class of “12 Outstanding Women in Ministry were:
- Dr. DeLois Broady, a minister at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. Broady was the first African-American female Chaplain Manager in the Methodist Healthcare System.
- Dr. Lynn Bumpus Dandridge, pastor of Central Baptist Church. In 2009, Dandridge became the first female and 14th pastor of historic Central Baptist Church.
- Dr. Deborah Luckett Day, founder and president of Mending Vessels Ministry, and associate minister of St. John Baptist Church, Vance Avenue.
- Dr. Cozette R. Garrett, Life Group Leader and Advisor to Clergy Ministry at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church.
- The Rev. Christine Allen Glass, associate minister of Grace Missionary Baptist Church. She was appointed Spiritual Life Commissioner of the Tennessee Missionary Baptist Educational Convention.
- The Rev. Mary E. Moore, minister at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. She was the second female elected to lead an African-American congregation. Moore pastored New Salem Baptist Church, 4th Street, for 13 years.
- Dr. Rosalyn R. Nichols, pastor, and founder of Freedom Chapel Christian Church. She is also executive director of the Memphis Theological Seminary Starks Institute for Faith, Race, and Social Justice.
- The Rev. Marilynn S. Robinson, retired pastor of St. Andrew AME Church, which she co-pastored with her husband, Dr. Kenneth S. Robinson. She operates two entities: Light & Life Travel Agency, and a community library for underserved children called Reading Works.
- Dr. Deborah B. Smith, Metro District Superintendent of the United Methodist Church. She is the former pastor of Centenary United Methodist Church and is a Rust College trustee.
- Dr. Almella Y. Starks-Umoja, an itinerant elder at St. James AME Church. She is a charter member of the Memphis Theological Seminary Starks Institute of Faith, Race, and Social Justice.
- Dr. Terri Strong, senior pastor of Mt. Sinai AME Church in Arlington, Tenn. She is an accomplished author and singer/songwriter, with eight published books and a CD project entitled, “It Was His Heart.”