Archive for August, 2014

What’s in a Name (Word)?

3 comments Written on August 25th, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
A Future Woman in MinistryNilwona Nowlin recently graduated from North Park University and Theological Seminary where she earned an MA in Christian Formation, a Masters in Nonprofit Administration and a Certificate in Justice Ministry. She currently serves as the Administrative Specialist for Governance for the ECC and is an active member of the Christian Community Development Association. In her “spare time,” Nilwona teaches workshops about living successfully as an introvert. She also randomly blogs about random things at http://thedreamerspeaks.com/

 

I recognized and accepted a “general” call to ministry over 15 years ago. What I mean by a general call is that I came to understand that God was calling me to a lifetime of using my gifts and skills to build up the kingdom, whether that was as a volunteer or a paid staff person. Over the years, God has revealed more specific aspects of my call in bits in pieces. While I was in seminary, it became clear to me that God’s call on my life would include preaching. For the most part, I accepted the other aspects of my call without much hesitation. However, accepting the call to preach was a longer process because, well, I was scared. Preaching requires one to proclaim God’s Word with some sense of authority, and I was intimidated by that thought. In the end, my trust in God was bigger than my fear of preaching. My first sermon was a ten minute homily, preached in the seminary chapel to the rest of my preaching class. My preaching gift was affirmed, and I was able to breathe a sigh of relief – but not for long. Continue Reading »

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Support For God’s Call

3 comments Written on August 18th, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
KR Headshot (large)Rev. Kelsey Rorem is Ordained to Word and Sacrament in the ECC. She currently serves as the Program Manager in the Center for Biblical and Theological Education at Seattle Pacific University, where among other things she oversees the Murdock Discipleship Fellows, Community Bible Study, and the Women in Ministry initiatives of the School of Theology. She is an avid fan of the Kansas Jayhawks, and is in total denial that this beautiful Seattle summer is ever going to end.

There was a time when “egalitarian” was not part of my regular vocabulary. In fact, for at least two thirds of my life I probably could not have even defined the word. Despite not knowing the proper terminology, I pejoratively classified those who supported women in all forms of ministry and leadership as “liberals” who clearly didn’t believe in the authority of Scripture. So you can imagine my surprise when I could no longer deny the sense that God was calling me to serve the church through vocational ministry. Throughout high school I wrestled with the difficult texts. I bargained with God about doing anything else other than ministry. I searched in vain for mentors to walk alongside of me in this journey, but to no avail. I felt discouraged and unsure of how to proceed. How could God possibly ask me to be a pastor when I had never so much as seen a female usher in my church?

It was not until college that I finally met a woman who embodied the pastoral call that I had long struggled against. She was my undergraduate advisor, a seasoned professor who had served in church and para-church settings around the world. And while I couldn’t have said so at the time, today as I look back over my journey I recognize the critical importance of this relationship in helping me to own and understand my calling. Without this woman’s modeling, challenge, and affirmation in my life I wouldn’t be where I am today. Continue Reading »

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Finding Voice in a World of Contradictions

5 comments Written on August 12th, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
img_9156Jo Ann Deasy is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church and holds a Ph.D. from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in congregational studies.  For the last four years she served as the pastor of Sojourner Covenant Church in Evanston, IL and recently moved to the Pittsburgh area to serve as the Director of Institutional Initiatives and Student Research at the Association of Theological Schools.  When she is not working she spends most of her time with her two passions, her almost two-year old son Declan and photography.  Yes, she has a lot of photos of Declan!

 

I recently finished an article for an upcoming book that suggested that perhaps our emphasis on male images of God was hurting the potential of young women to develop a pastoral identity.  I wasn’t challenging churches that clearly consider God more male than female, who refuse to use any feminine images for God, who believe that being male means you are a step closer to God and therefore allowed to serve as pastor.  I was talking about those of us who believe that women can serve as pastors, but still primarily use male language and images for God.  It is easy to do.  “Father” is, of course, a biblical title for the first person of the trinity.  And Jesus was a man.  Literally.  Not just human, but God incarnate in male form.  And trying to use gender neutral language for God can be some cumbersome when you are first learning how.  You end up repeating the words “God” and “God’s self” a lot.

I spent weeks agonizing over the article.  Not because I couldn’t make my case.  I had done a lot of research on the matter.  Interviewed young women who were so gifted and talented, but couldn’t fathom becoming pastors.  Not because they didn’t believe in themselves.  Well, actually they didn’t believe in themselves, not any more.  Most of them had when they were younger, but then life got in the way.  And as they grew older, they couldn’t imagine a life that wasn’t structured around men taking care of them.  Even if men had never taken care of them, they still longed for a world where men took care of them, husbands, fathers, pastors, God.  And our consistent use of male language for God only furthered this idealized world. Continue Reading »

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Advocacy Through Excellence

2 comments Written on August 4th, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Jean Cheng Gorman recently resigned as Associate Pastor at Covenant Grove Church in Modesto, CA and will soon begin serving on staff for the Pacific Southwest Conference, focusing on promoting health in ministry for pastors, spouses and staff. She also serves as Vice-President of Advocates for Covenant Clergy Women.

 

So many important ideas about ways to advocate for women clergy have been shared in this blog recently. Among them are:

    • Providing visibility and opportunities for women in leadership
    • Facilitating the training and ordination of women
    • Developing mentorship pathways for girls and women
    • Exposing others to women preachers
    • Fostering partnerships among men and women in ministry

These steps are sorely needed, as is another– advocacy through excellence. A seasoned leader whom I greatly respect recently told me, “The best way to advocate for women clergy is for you to be the best pastor you can be.” He then shared how his own theology on women in ministry changed after experiencing the ministry of a gifted woman pastor.

My story is the same. Having heard traditional interpretations of biblical texts as prohibiting women in leadership, I had always believed women could not be pastors. Then we began attending a nondenominational church whose associate pastor was a woman. She was a gifted preacher. More so, in fact, than the men on staff. Experiencing God work in my life in powerful ways through her preaching was the beginning of a theological journey that has brought me to where I am today.

Excellence in ministry speaks volumes to those who doubt that God calls women as pastors, teachers and leaders. It is hard to deny the calling of God when you see it in action.

Sisters, be the best pastors you can be. Preach the word with boldness and faithfulness. Lead and serve the church with humility and fearlessness. Equip and empower the Body of Christ to spread the Kingdom of God. As you strive for excellence and passionately serve the Lord with all gifts He has given you, know that the Lord Himself will advocate for you.

 

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