Archive for July, 2014

Gratitude for Faithful Saints and Thoughtful Conversations

3 comments Written on July 28th, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

Rev. Rebecca Poor (Becky) is ordained to Word and Sacrament, has an MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary, and is the Senior Pastor at Saranac Community Church, a small rural town in western Michigan. Becky is the Great Lakes Conference Liaison for Advocates for Covenant Clergy Women (ACCW) has a passion for sharing Christ’s love and hope with our hurting world!

The Evangelical Covenant Church affirms “…the biblical basis for service in the body of Christ is giftedness, call from God, and godly character-not gender “(*Called & Gifted, p. 2). As a woman who has been gifted and called by God, I’m truly thankful for the Covenant’s position on women in pastoral ministry! I don’t think I realized how important this affirmation was until January 2011, when I formally entered the call process.

Prior to that I had served as the Pastor to Youth and Families at Bethany Covenant Church in CT for 11 years. Feeling very affirmed in my calling there, and seeing a good balance of men and women in my seminary classes at North Park Theological Seminary, I admit I never really thought about the barriers that might exist as I sought a new calling. However, as I began interviewing for a lead pastor role, I began to understand that not all churches affirmed female pastors, even in the Covenant. In fact the church in which I now serve had previously questioned the role of women in lead pastoral roles (women had served on the Church Council and in supportive ministerial roles).

Knowing the rich faith heritage of our congregation, I understand their concerns were not due to closed-minds, but a strong commitment to God’s Word and will. They honestly wrestled with difficult texts which led them to question the Biblical role of women in pastoral leadership. Yet they decided not to dismiss the tough questions. Fully embracing their adopted ECC identity they chose to ask “where is it written?” Continue Reading »

Report This Post

Making Pathways for Women

11 comments Written on July 21st, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

Corrie Gustafson is an ordained minister currently serving as an interim chaplain at Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is the Pacific Southwest Conference Liaison for Advocates for Covenant Clergy Women (ACCW) and a Regional Coordinator for Advocacy for Victims of Abuse (AVA). She blogs regularly at pastorwithapurse.

I grew up in an evangelical denomination that limited its female members to a narrow list of roles in congregational life. Women could run the community preschool, oversee and teach Sunday school, VBS and Awana, and organize potlucks and special events. Don’t get me wrong, these are all important ways to serve, but when I left for college and joined a Covenant church, I began to see my heritage through a different lens. I wondered, were these few roles fulfilling to all women? Was every woman able to use her spiritual gifts? (And for that matter, was anyone encouraging the women to discover and use their spiritual gifts?) How many of the women realized that their gifts were better suited to roles other than the nurturing and teaching of children or event planning? And how did those women handle the tension between their gifts and the roles they were allowed to fill?

During the 9 to 5, the women I looked up to were nurses, bank VPs, teachers, attorneys, artists, sales reps and accountants. They were devoted followers of Christ, competent and respected leaders in the community and corporate world, educated, well-spoken, talented and creative, yet at church they were not permitted to lead any part of the worship service, serve communion, usher, receive the tithes and offerings or speak in any way from the stage or pulpit. The only exception was during our biannual missionary week when one of our many female missionaries would testify from the pulpit about the ministry she was doing abroad. No one ever spoke about the great contradiction we embodied by commissioning women missionaries to lead abroad even as we limited the mission of the women in our local churches. Continue Reading »

Report This Post

Walking Together

1 Comment » Written on July 17th, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

Pastor Catherine Gilliard and Pastor Tim Rodgers serve as co-senior pastors of New Life Covenant Church, a multi-cultural congregation in Atlanta, Georgia. Catherine is ordained to Word and Sacrament, holds an MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary and is a candidate for a Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from the Association of Chicago Theological Schools. She currently serves as president of Advocates for Covenant Clergy Women (ACCW).
BG&E Photo - Walking Together Blog
When I enter into the pages of scripture, I see a model of discipleship that is rarely duplicated. It is our call to ‘make disciples.’ In most parts of the business world this is called, ‘mentorship.’ I define it as the journey you take with another person to grow deeper in understanding — a journey of transforming you into a new way of ‘being.’ Throughout scripture, we witness this transformative journey as Jesus walked with disciples moving through each day with a heightened awareness of God’s priorities in their world. When we enter into discipleship and mentorship relationships, we, too, are able to walk together with new understandings and a deeper sense of urgency and call. The process of being transformed will always mean being challenged and constantly changed — and change is a difficult process for us all. Sadly, I believe comfort is something rarely found in discipleship and mentoring relationships.

Whenever I have entered into discipleship relationships with other men and women, I have been changed by their story, as they are also changed by mine. We are each also changed by the Word of God as we are led by the Holy Spirit to follow Christ’s example of challenging systemic structures of prejudice, oppression and abuse, inside and outside of the church. It is in walking together that I discover your heart’s longings, while you encounter mine. We are changed, because we have intentionally chosen to walk into places of challenge together: listening, talking, sharing, and seeing the world and one another, differently. New models aren’t needed for transformation. To truly be transformed, we need to be ‘with’ each other more – and not through technological devices, but in our walking together. As we listen to one another we can discover God’s voice in the midst of those issues we name as places of struggle for us. Continue Reading »

Report This Post

Social Capital

5 comments Written on July 9th, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

Julie Jane Capel serves as secretary of Advocates for Covenant Clergy Women ministerium board. She is a recent seminary graduate of North Park Theological Seminary and hopes to use her MDiv. as an associate or solo parish pastor in the near future. Currently she is working as a chaplain at a trauma one hospital on the west side of Chicago – where she sees the Holy Spirit show up every time she walks into a new hospital room.


In Detroit, fifty-three weeks ago I sat in the lobby of the hotel that the 128th Annual Meeting was held at. My roommate’s flight had been delayed and I was unable to get into our shared room. So I sat in the lobby in a relatively comfortable, overstuffed chair with my bags at my feet – unsure what my next move should be.

A few Covenant men and women (an assumption made because of their nametags) saw me and waved me over to their restaurant table. I vaguely recognized only 10% of the people but I still sat down. At their invitation, I told them about myself, my pastoral call and where I would hope to minister. Only after my monologue did I realize this was a gathering of the Covenant Executive Board – the women and men who cast mission, vision and action for our denomination as our elected officials. (Explained in

Fast forward a year and a few days to the Gather14 (129 Annual Meeting) when a woman came up to me and asked, “do you remember me?” I exclaimed, “Of course!” Here was the woman who had invited me to the table. She again asked where I was in the pastoral search and promised to be my advocate throughout the rest of the annual meeting. I laughed. But she meant business.

Over the next few days, she and another man from the Executive Board, made it their personal mission to introduce me to people I would otherwise not have had access to. They used their social capital to vouch for me because they believed in me, in North Park Seminary’s training, and in the Covenant pastoral call process. In my opinion, these Executive Board members enacted out the mission of the Commission for Biblical Gender Equality.

As I have reflected further I realize that this is what Jesus does for us. Jesus brings us to the Father and uses his social capital (as the Son) to vouches for us. (1 John 2:1) He advocates for us and sets an example for us to advocate for each other. I am deeply grateful that our Executive Board has done that for me. Will you follow suit, and use your social capital for someone else?


Report This Post

Report This Blog