Divinity grad receives national ministry award

Associate minister. Youth director. Mental health specialist. Missionary. Now, Genetta Williams (’17 MDiv) can add one more title to that list, recipient of the Addie Davis Award for Outstanding Leadership in Pastoral Ministry.

But choosing to go into the ministry was a difficult decision for Williams to make.

Raised under the former Missionary Baptist notion that women were not to serve in the ministry, Williams felt conflicted when she first realized God’s calling.

“I kept finding ways to busy myself and ignore that pull on my heart,” she said. “I ignored it and ignored it until I couldn’t anymore. I found myself confused because I was taught to obey God but also to obey my parents and authority.”

Ultimately, she stepped out on faith and answered the call. First, serving as a youth director then continuing as an associate minister with Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

When she enrolled in Campbell University Divinity School, she found herself taking more responsibilities and more leadership roles. These opportunities allowed her to explore theology in a way she hadn’t experienced before and immerse herself in other cultures.

However, when it was her turn to preach in chapel, she revisited her own upbringing in the church.

“Answering the call, that’s what I spoke about during my message in chapel. Answering the call and not being afraid to step out on faith no matter the risk or obstacle. Even if some people might not accept it.”

That sermon along with leadership roles in chapel services throughout her time at Campbell earned her one of the Baptist Women in Ministry’s highest honors, the Addie Davis Award for Outstanding Leadership in Pastoral Ministry.

Established in 1995 to honor the first Southern Baptist woman ordained to the ministry, the Addie Davis Award gives public recognition to gifted women seminarians.

She said receiving the award was a humbling experience.

“It was awesome to be able to represent Campbell Divinity, and it means that in some way what I have done has been useful in answering God’s call through teaching.”

While the award is an honor, she says, being with people during times of crisis and in times of celebration is worth the sacrifices she made to answer God’s call.

“When I extend myself to the Lord’s will and see the benefits, I say, ‘Thank you, God, for leading me to that.’”

Williams graduated with a Master of Divinity in Missions & Evangelism in May.