Leading the Way
“I always felt called to ministry, but as a layperson,” said Kelly King, women’s missions and ministries specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO). “Bible studies, discipleship, teaching, leading small groups – that’s what I was drawn to. Ministry opportunities for women were limited when I was growing up. I honestly never imagined God would lead me into vocational ministry, but that’s what He’s done and I love what I’m doing.”
King graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1984 with a degree in journalism and a wealth of professional, interpersonal, and spiritual experience.
“I was really shy and introverted in high school,” she said. “When I got to OBU, I was pushed out of my comfort zone. I had professors who invested in me personally, and I flourished.”
During her time at OBU, King became a member of the Phi Omega Sigma sorority. In fact, she drafted its charter. She was also editor of the Yahnseh and served as president of the Bisonettes Women’s Glee Club.
“I wasn’t even a voice major,” King said. “That’s one of the great things about Bison Hill. OBU’s supportive and accommodating environment allowed me to do things I loved to do outside of my degree and form lasting relationships I wouldn’t have had otherwise. OBU broadened my perspective of ministry and the world, and inspired me to explore all kinds of leadership opportunities. You just can’t get that in the same way from larger universities!”
Following graduation, King went to work for WEOKIE Credit Union, and began to serve in her local church leading small groups and teaching Bible studies. It was during that season of her life that she met her husband Vic.
“I didn’t marry a minister, but I married the kind of man every minister wants in his church – a pastor’s best friend,” King said. “He is a godly man, and I’m blessed.”
When her first child, Conner, was born, she chose to stay home to care for him and began work as a freelance graphic designer, using skills she developed at OBU as yearbook editor. When her youngest child, Courtney, was in first grade, King received a call from Council Road Baptist Church that would dramatically shift the trajectory of her involvement in Kingdom work.
“They wanted me on staff,” King said. “After three months of saying no, I was spending time with the Lord one morning and realized that I would be disobedient if I didn’t say ‘yes.’ I started working part time, and it became the greatest joy. I realized how much I enjoyed vocational ministry.”
The year Courtney entered middle school, King began working for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
“I felt like my children were the right age for me to begin working full time,” she said. “That was important to me because I’ve always felt that being a wife and mother was my first calling. I never wanted to feel that I had neglected that in any way.”
For King, the transition from local church staff to denominational work was a smooth one, as she had already done freelance work for the BGCO and had been leading women’s seminars and conferences.
“I feel very fortunate,” she said. “You know, as women, we struggle to stay within the boundaries of what is expected, but God has ideas for us that aren’t always inside the boxes we create for ourselves. When we obey and let God show us what to do next, He opens doors and uses our gifts and talents for His glory in unique ways. I believe He is opening doors for women in ministry, and I’ve been blessed to be a part of that movement.”
For the past 10 years, King has encouraged the Baptist women of Oklahoma in the roles that God has called them to, inspired them to embrace who God is and equipped them to echo His heart through missions and evangelism. She looks for opportunities to connect with women personally and has spoken in over 100 Oklahoma churches. Under her leadership, the BGCO Women’s Retreat has become a much anticipated social and spiritual event for many Oklahoma Baptist women. In addition, she is an author and Christian curriculum developer. Her work has been published repeatedly by StudentLife, Lifeway Christian Resources and various Christian magazines.
Humbled by the unique opportunities God has given her to serve, King is grateful for the continued support of her family.
“Vic has never said ‘no’ to something I felt God was leading me to do,” she said of her husband. “And the kids … well, I think they have loved being ministry kids. They’ve never said or done anything to make me think otherwise.”
King attributes much of her success to the investment her OBU professors made in her.
“Kathryn Palen made a big impact on me,” she said. “She was my professor and boss, and gave me confidence by letting me take responsibility. Jack Pearson became a sort of surrogate dad for me. Honestly, there are so many influential people from my time at OBU. It’s hard to name them all.”
She also appreciates the sisterhood she has enjoyed throughout her life and thanks God for it.
“You know, looking back, you have those ‘ah ha’ moments where you can see what God was doing, and how He was putting everything together,” she said. “I know it was no accident He put me with so many wonderful women at every life stage. The younger women I mentored, and the older women who let me lead and fail and stuck with me anyway, all of those women loved me and let me love them. They prepared me for the future, and they are my heroes.”