It’s an internal debate with which many women of faith struggle: Am I serving God best by working in a job in the secular world, or should I be staying at home to take care of my family?
Childhood friends and University of Mobile graduates Courtney Cassady Moore and Mary Carlisle Wiley are tackling that quandary through their Women & Work ministry, which employs panel discussions, speaking engagements, blog posts and podcasts to start a conversation about how working women can learn to view their work as meaningful to the Kingdom of God.
Moore and Wiley launched Women & Work with a panel discussion at the June 2018 Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas. (For more information, check out their website at womenwork.net.) Moore earned her Bachelor of Arts in religion from UM in 2002 and later earned a Master of Arts in biblical counseling from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Wiley received a Bachelor of Artsin English and theology in 2009.
Wrestlings of the Heart
Moore and Wiley launched Women & Work with a panel discussion at the June 2018 Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas. (For more information, check out their website at womenwork.net.) Moore earned her Bachelor of Arts in religion from UM in 2002 and later earned a Master of Arts in biblical counseling from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Wiley received a Bachelor of Artsin English and theology in 2009. Wrestlings of the Heart
Moore, a contract writer whose clients include LifeWay Christian Resources, lives in Brandon,Mississippi with her pastor husband and three small children. She conceived of Women & Work when she was struggling with her own conflicts about working outside the home.
“Women & Work began primarily as the outworking of the wrestlings of my own heart,” Moore said. “Ironically, I never intended to work outside the home. Though I felt called to ministry as a high school student, my vision for how I could serve the Kingdom of God as a woman wasnarrow. Over time I began to believe that supporting my minister husband and staying home with my children was the right and best way for me to be a godly woman. I pridefully projected this belief onto all women until I began to realize my service to the Lord and to the world could be much broader than I previously thought.
“I began to pray and look for ways to use both my undergraduate and graduate degree as a way to serve God and steward my mind and education. Writing became a joy-filled endeavor, and God used this joy and satisfaction in my work to show me how good work outside the home can be,” Moore said.
She recognized that many women don’t have the option of not working outside the home. They may be single mothers, single women with no children, or married with heavy financial burdens. Earning a paycheck is essential to their livelihood.
“A desire grew within me to want to equip them with a more God-centered vision for work,” she said, “rather than have them go about it as a chore or drudgery.” A self-proclaimed night-owl, Moore works on the ministry and her part-time contract writing after the kids are in bed or when they are in school, napping or in childcare.
Wiley, who lives in Nashville with her husband and two small children, is the marketing strategist for women’s books at LifeWay Christian Resources, hosts a “Questions Kids Ask” podcast, and is pursuing a master’s in theological studies at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“Courtney does most of the day-to-day work,” Wiley said of Women & Work, “but I’m so thankful to be able to use what I learn daily at work or in other endeavors to pour back into other women. I have been the sounding board and have helped with marketing, since my background is marketing women’s books. We’ve each written for Women & Work, and many other women will be joining the ranks in that role soon.”
Hannah Attaway, another childhood friend, recently joined the Women & Work team. A certified personal trainer, Christian writer, ministry wife, and mother of three children, Attaway attended UM for two years, moving away when she married in order for her husband to attend seminary and enter the ministry. They’ve recently returned to Alabama for her husband to pastor a church in Bessemer, while she pursues her own theological education.
Moore, Wiley and Attaway share more than their desire to serve working women of faith. They also have a shared history, growing up in the same town and attending First Baptist Church of Tallassee, which is pastored by Attaway’s father, Derek Gentle.
“Everybody knows everybody in a small town,” Moore said. “That is definitely true of Tallassee, Alabama. Though I was a few years ahead of them in school, Hannah, Mary and I always shared a love for the Lord and all things ministry-related.”
Even though the three friends attended UM at different times, they eventually reconnected to join forces in the Women & Work ministry.
A Framework to Honor God
University of Mobile is intertwined with not only their history, but also their present and future.
“I use what I learned at UM daily as I seek to write and edit content that rightly illustrates concepts presented in Scripture,” Wiley said. “I do a lot of writing as a part of my job, and also outside of work, so I put that English degree to good work as well.”
Both Moore and Wiley say they enrolled in UM to answer their individual calls to the ministry, but they contend that a Christ-centered education helps students from all walks of life.
“I chose to attend the university because I wanted a Christ-centered education and like-minded Christian friends,” Moore said. “These friends were massively important to my walk with God, and they help set the foundation for my theology today.
“A Christ-centered university is important not only because some students are preparing for ministry, but also because all students are preparing for ministry, no matter the field in which they end up working,” Moore said.
“Just as the vision for Women & Work seeks to expand the Kingdom of God through productivity in the workplace,” Moore added, “offering students a Christ-centered worldview and education provides them with the framework they need to honor God out in the world through their future vocations.”