Women loving God with their minds at Society for Women in Scholarship Reception

Women representing three SBC seminaries gathered for the Society for Women in Scholarship Reception in Indianapolis before the 2024 SBC Annual Meeting.
Women representing three SBC seminaries — NOBTS, SEBTS and SWBTS — gather for the Society for Women in Scholarship Reception.
(Photo courtesy of Jennifer Blair Foster)

Women loving God with their minds at Society for Women in Scholarship Reception

When asked the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 CSB). Southern Baptist women are loving God with their minds through engagement in scholarship and the academy.

On Monday afternoon, women representing three SBC seminaries gathered for the Society for Women in Scholarship Reception. These women joined together to hear updates from each Society, to celebrate academic accomplishments and to encourage each other in their academic pursuits. 

Dr. Julia B. Higgins serves as the faculty advisor for the Society for Women in Scholarship at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. About eight years ago, according to Higgins, female students approached English professor Dr. Adrianne Miles about beginning a scholastic society for women. This grassroots, student-led movement flourished at SEBTS. Higgins noted, “The Society gives space for women in the academy to steward well the gift of scholarship.” Mary Wiley is a PhD student at SEBTS and member of the Society. “Theological education is for the whole church, and the Society equips women to do the work of ministry,” Wiley said. 

Receiving support

The Society at SEBTS served as a model for a similar society at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Emily Dean, assistant professor of Ministry to Women at NOBTS, noted that since the Society’s inaugural year in 2021, membership has grown to over sixty women. Dean stated, “The Society is a place for community among fellow members of the academy and provides space for women to gain confidence in writing and speaking.” According to Heather Johnson, current NOBTS Society president, “It can be challenging and lonely in academic circles. The Society is a place where graduate and doctoral students can receive support from like-minded, like-goaled women.” 

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary initially began their society right before COVID. The Society relaunched this spring with 20 to 25 ladies at each meeting according to Dr. Terri Stovall, dean of Women at SWBTS. Stovall acknowledges that God uses women in a variety of places throughout ministry. “She can be a wife and a theologian, a mom and a theologian, or in the academy and a theologian. We need strong, well-trained women in the home, the Church and the marketplace.”

Areas of focus

The Societies at the seminaries meet several times each semester. “At our meetings, we provide space for women to fellowship, to sharpen their academic skills and to practice presenting,” Stovall said. Likewise, Stovall described three areas of focus for the SWBTS Society: developing academic skill sets, discussing current issues impacting women in ministry and allowing students to present their research.

“In Society meetings at SEBTS, women are able to dialogue with professors, to learn through workshops on academic topics like writing or publishing and brainstorm on ways to meet the unique needs of women in the academy and the Church,” said Dr. Anna Daub, assistant professor of Missions at SEBTS.

These Societies equip Southern Baptist women to lead in the academy and the Church as they love God with their heart, soul and mind. Sara Robinson, past president of the NOBTS Society, said, “Participating in the Society is about making connections, and it’s a good sisterhood.” 

More information about each Society can be found online at

EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Jennifer Blair Foster.

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