“Is Jan Davis the first woman elected?” This week, I was humbled and honored to be elected by my colleagues as the first clergy delegate to the General Conference in Portland, OR in 2016. I have been surprised how many people have asked me the question, “Are you the first female clergy North Texas has elected to the number one spot in the delegation?”. No. Everyone must know who that clergy woman was – Kathleen Baskin-Ball.
Kathleen was elected in 2007 to lead the delegation to the General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas in 2008. This was the only time a woman had been elected in the first spot for the entire 140 year history of our conference. Kathleen was an incredible force of love and grace. A strong, confident leader, Kathleen mentored and inspired all of us. Despite her battle with cancer during the year of delegation work, she was tireless and fearless throughout everything. I hope to lead with half of the elegance and enthusiasm she demonstrated.
Kathleen died in December 2008 following a heroic fight against cancer. I am very honored to follow in her footsteps. I can hear her encouraging words, “No matter what, let your light shine.” I will attempt to shine the light God has put within me in Portland.
Another strong female leader, Mary Brooke Casad was elected the first lay delegate to General Conference three times in 2000, 2004 and 2008. Mary Brooke has been a rock of strength in difficult times and led the North Texas delegation with confidence and ease. Although she has chosen to “retire” from GC this year, we will continue to look to Mary Brooke for counsel and advice. I am certain I speak on behalf of all of the women (and men) on the North Texas delegation – both clergy and lay – we are thankful for these great leaders who led the way for the rest of us.