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.

There’s a beautiful symmetry that is part of my current ministry setting, and for that I give thanks. One of my roles is to do this very thing that was so critical to my story; namely, journey alongside undergraduate and seminary women who are studying theology and discerning where God is calling them in life. I get to have coffee with students and ask hard questions about Scripture and the role of women in the church. I get to invite female pastors to campus in order to share their stories. I get to ask big questions and dream big dreams with gifted young women who are undoubtedly called to further God’s Kingdom here on earth. It is an unspeakable privilege and an honor.

It has been said before on this blog, but it bears repeating again and again. If we believe that women and men are called to share leadership in the church, then we have to be good mentors and advocates for the women of all ages that we brush shoulders with.

For those of us who are already intentionally seeking out these kinds of relationships, be encouraged that even the seemingly ordinary conversations can provide worlds of support to a woman who is wrestling with what God is up to in her life. Press on in your efforts to affirm gifted women in their call to ministry!

For the rest of us, take a few minutes to consider who you might pour into in the next days and weeks. This could be through a single invitation to serve, a note of encouragement, or a more formal mentoring relationship. Don’t assume that gifted and passionate women perceive themselves as such. Affirm where you see God at work in and through their lives.
The young women that I work with on a daily basis encourage me to say that the future of the church is bright. They are passionate about pursuing love of God and neighbor through bold and creative avenues. Now let’s do our part to mentor and call out what God is already cultivating!

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3 comments “Support For God’s Call”

Kelsey – Thanks for sharing your journey. We see how God has used your time of discernment to encouragement women to be obedient to call. Isn’t that the role of discipleship ministry? You’ve given us a clear picture of how we often struggle with what God is calling us to do until someone speaks into our lives with affirming words that motivate us to open our hearts to the Holy Spirits leading. Thanks so much for going this important conversation and using your voice to help us remember to look for opportunities to have these conversations throughout our day.

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Thank you for sharing your story, Kelsey! I am always amazed at how the Holy Spirit reaches through the barriers culture erects around pastoral ministry and calls people to follow God’s call upon their lives. Grateful for the courage you had to follow and the model that is for those who follow behind.

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I share your experience of not having female minister to emulate until adulthood. This always makes me very aware of the wonderful responsibility we have to be that for young women and girls. As a pastor, I’m always asking, how can I facilitate the celebration of the presence and contributions of women and girls in the church? Thanks for taking similar questions to the seminary world. We need encouragement for every step on the path of our call.

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