Alumna Bethany Chapman on being a woman in ministry
The Chapmans are a ministry family. Michael and Bethany met at Avondale. Both studied theology and ministry, with Bethany graduating a year before Michael in 2008. The couple are now ordained/commissioned ministers, with Bethany serving as Director of Women’s Ministries for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in northern New South Wales and Michael pastoring the Central Coast Community Church. They are also parents of daughters Charlotte, Zoe and Letty.
From where or whom did your call to ministry come?
God! Since the age of 16, I felt convicted to dedicate my life to His kingdom. I spent a lot of time fighting this conviction, but He has closed doors and opened windows and continually called me back to a life of service.
As a young woman, I prayed a radical prayer. It went like this: I’ll say yes to everything I’m asked to do for God but I’m not going to put my hand up or ask to do anything. In that year, I went from never having stood on my own up the front of church to praying the congregational prayer, singing solos, preaching and leading Bible studies and a small group. Some of the things I was asked to do I didn’t enjoy doing but the experiences helped me discover my spiritual gifts.
My heart always feels fullest when I lean into what God is asking me to do for His kingdom.
How do you find living and working with a husband who’s a minister, too?
Not for the faint-hearted. I never thought I’d marry another minister, but I love being a part of each other’s worlds. It’s great to see the other being used by God. When we get the chance, it’s also great to work together complementing one another’s giftedness. We have to communicate clearly about our schedules to juggle parenting—we want our ministry to bless not burden our children.
You’re a woman in ministry. I imagine that’s sometimes an additional challenge. Yes?
It’s not easy being a female in a male-dominated profession but the line for the women’s toilet is always shorter at ministers’ meetings. Like any minister, Michael and I have our critics. I’m my harshest critic—the loudest “no” comes from within. But God restores me, challenges me, calls me, equips me and throws me in the deep end. He knows what I can do and where I should be doing it. With a resounding “yes,” He sets me back on the path He’s placed before me.
Ministry has highs and lows. Tell me about the biggest highs.
I’m always overwhelmed witnessing lives changed for Christ. Bible studies, baptisms and personal spiritual growth are a delight for me in my ministry. I’ve been blessed to watch the work of the Holy Spirit. That’s a pretty special privilege.
Part of your role is to inspire other women to be active in their churches and communities. What do you find works best?
Being honest. Nobody has it all together and everybody is busy. I don’t want serving God to be another burden in the lives of women who are already juggling so much. When we’re connected with our Creator and Redeemer, service flows from a place of gratitude rather than resentment. It’s also vital women see genuine examples of other women—everyday women—who model life lived in service to Christ.