Female reverend makes bold move to become preacher and teacher - KCTV5 News

Female reverend makes bold move to become both preacher and teacher

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If you step into the Rev. Dr. Molly Marshall's office and look around, it's clear that she's a woman of deep faith.

Crosses hang on the wall. The pictures and many books reflect a life rich with memories, souvenirs and accomplishments.

Her first step onto what would become her career path came at an early age.

"I felt a beckoning to ministry, but I thought it would be as a youth minister or missionary. I didn't ever presume it would be as a theologian, and later as a seminary president," Marshall said.

Her resume is impressive and, early on, building it took grit and determination. As a female, she had to fight her way into what was an exclusive club.

"In college, the ministerial association only let men join until I made the case for joining. That was about 1969," Marshall said.

Marshall's bold move was followed by another one as she prepared herself to be both a preacher and a teacher.

"I don't think it will get much better for women in the churches until it gets better for women at the seminary. That's when I decided to pursue a PhD and prepare to teach in theological education," she said.

After graduation Marshall became a professor of theology at a Southern Baptist seminary in Kentucky. Eleven years came and went, but then changes were made when a new president joined the school.

"Basically he got the job by being willing to say we will not have women instructing men, we will not support the ordination of women nor support pastoral leadership on the part of women," Marshall said.

The president also threatened to bring charges in the church against Marshall.

Feeling defeated, she left, but not altogether quietly. Her departure was the subject of a PBS documentary in 1996 called Battle for the Minds.

Marshall moved on, continuing to prove skeptics wrong and showing that women can make outstanding leaders in theology. Since 2004 she's served as the president of Central Baptist Seminary.

"I think there are just those folk who don't believe women should be leading theological schools because it has been a bastion of male leadership. I'm the only, to my knowledge, the only female leader of a Baptist seminary in North America," Marshall said.

She oversees seminaries from Seattle to Nashville, to Myanmar overseas. Now housed in a new building, the Kansas school is home to a chapel, a library and pieces of the past.

After winning multiple awards for courage, teaching and being a pioneer for women, Marshall said it's still the students who keep her work challenging and fresh.

"I really love what I do. I really love the mission of theological education and I love students, but I have fun with students. I don't take myself terribly seriously," she said.

On a side note, Marshall is also known for her chili. She said the secret is lots of cumin.

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