Thank You: A Spoken Word Tribute to Women in Ministry

Jeanelle E. Austin


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Slider THANK YOU Spoken Word

Jeanelle Austin’s spoken word piece “Thank You” performed at”Celebrating Women in Leadership”, a conference co-sponsored by The Junia Project at Azusa Pacific University on 2/14/2015. 

When we say, “Women in ministry,” it often begins a debate.

Those on the left side of the room get mad at men,

and over on the right, body language indicates that the words alone can make a person irate.

But somewhere in the middle are voices often ignored.

Because they are less taken by gender roles and stand in awe of the women who gave them wings to soar.

So imagine with me that we ushered the left and the right into a sound proof room.

The only whispers now cutting the silence would sound a lot like, “Thank you.”

Thank you to my mother who walked in her anointing from God.

Thank you to my father who nurtured her call like seeds in rich sod.

Thank you to my pastor, she walked with me through my grief,

and when I had no money, she helped me find economic relief.

Thank you to the preacher, her sermon brought me to the cross.

Thank you to the missionary, because of her I’m found instead of lost.

Thank you to the soundboard women, I can hear the sounds so clearly.

Hats off to the women who usher and every Sunday greet me.

Thank you to the youth leader, she cares about my generation.

She knows how to break down the gospel and beat me at PlayStation.

Thank you to that Christian, she helped me buy a home.

Who knew that faith and realty didn’t stand alone?!

Thank you to the chaplain, she was present when I was at my worst:

At the hospital, in the military, and even in professional sports.


The thank you’s kept on ringing,

for in seconds, the room went from anger to silence to singing

the praises of the women who walk in their call

no matter their gender, their heart is to give their all.

It’s a crying shame that the church holds on to ceilings of glass,

when God created this world for men and women, free of social class:

A garden, some fruit, a couple of rivers and a call

to care for the earth and every living creature–yes, even the ones that make your skin crawl.

It was never about social gender roles and progress.

That’s why women can be in ministry.

The thank you’s exist because she exists fully in who God created her to be.


So to all the mothers, sisters, aunties, and daughters

To those who have gone before, those present, and those who are to come after

We celebrate you and your ministry as you continue to stand in truth.

And we don’t say it often enough, but today;

Today please accept our resounding “thank you”.

Jeanelle E. Austin

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  • Hey Jeanelle,

    THANK YOU!!! I love this… and great that you got rid of all the arguers before you got onto the thank yous… I sometimes think the ones who disagree so disagreeably make it so much harder. I’d love to use this in our conference. I’ll be in touch.

  • This was an amazing experience and now it can be shared this way.

    Poetry like this–well it can have a greater impact than expositions.

    Still, let me say: To break the barriers against appointing women as pastors to our churches, the congregations must be educated. It is the responsibility of leadership to do this. Education does not break all barriers, because people who know all the arguments for the full ordination of women still choose to oppose the practice. But education has changed many people’s minds. The recent book published by Baylor University Press called: How I Changed my Mind about Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals (Alan Johnson, Editor. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010) witnesses to the transformation of the mindsets of many evangelical leaders. Expositions and arguments are persuasive for many, but personal experience is far more effective. We can have the greatest impact on our world by encouraging women and men called into ministry if we use ALL MEANS to prepare people for, and then give them, women pastors.

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