Archive for November, 2014

Peace In The Storm

2 comments Written on November 26th, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

m petersonMary Peterson is the ACCW liaison for the Pacific Northwest Conference and serves as the Pastor of Children and Family Ministries at Highland Covenant Church in Bellevue, Washington. Mary and her husband, Eric, have two kids- a six year old named Luke and a four year old named Kate. 

I recently came across a homily on the calming of the sea (Matthew 8:23-37) by Peter Chrysologus, the Bishop of Ravenna from about 430-450 AD. I’ve heard this story a million, zillion times, but never have I heard it from this perspective. Here’s a quote:

“When Christ embarked, in the boat of His Church, to cross the sea of the world…the tempests of persecutors, the storm clouds of the mob, and the foggy mists of the devils all descended in fury to make one storm over all the world. The waves of kings were foaming, the billows of the mighty seethed, the rage of subjects resounded, nations swirled like whirlpools, sharp rocks of infidelity came into view, groans resounded from Christian shores, the shipwrecks of the fallen-aways were drifting about, and there was one crisis, one shipwreck of all the world. So the disciples came to the Lord and woke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing.”

As I have been reflecting on what to write this blog about-what to share about how God has called me to serve him, God has reminded me of the storms I have been through. Storms inside my heart and mind, but also storms that blew in from elsewhere. I started seminary right out of college. I chose the only seminary I knew much about. It was the place my grandfather had studied when he was starting out in ministry. I was sure it was the best seminary I could choose. I was eager to dive into theology, Greek and Hebrew. There was only one glaring problem- my gender. I had no voice. Even after being accepted to the seminary and paying my tuition, there was no room for me at this table. Well, maybe there was room if I was looking to be a pastor’s wife, but I wasn’t. I felt like all of a sudden I was caught in a storm much like the disciples found themselves in. I doubted God. I doubted myself. I doubted the church I was raised in and loved deeply. I doubted denominations. The waves of doubt were crashing in, and I was truly perishing. Continue Reading »

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A Spoonful Of Sugar

3 comments Written on November 18th, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

Dru McLeland navigating the unexpected call of God on her life to the world of “pastordom” which continually surprises her with its supercalifragilisticexpialidociousness.

Super-Nanny-firstThe call process, a nice way of saying “trying to get a job in ministry,” is an interesting journey. I am currently in “the call process.”  Recently, I was happily surprised that a church actually called me for an interview because they saw my profile on Covconnect.  After the interview they even asked me to come preach!  I began to be cautiously excited about the possibilities.  Of course the time I had for sermon preparation was interrupted by life.  I heard through the grapevine that the church was most likely going to hire someone else.  Saturday I came down with the flu.  Sunday morning thirty minutes before the service started I was told “Oh by the way there’s a youth sermon you’re responsible for and you’re leading the service.”  Of course as a pastor I should know the order of service since the Church has been using the same one for over half a century.  Thanks to God and Dayquil I made it through.  Several people, including members of the search team, said how much they enjoyed the sermon and that I did a great job.  “That was just what we needed to hear!”   After church my husband showed me the grading sheet that was enclosed in each of the bulletins except my copy.  I would give myself a C+.

I am coming to believe that it is a miracle that any church actually hires a pastor and that any pastor actually agrees to be hired.  I say this a little bit tongue in cheek.   Churches seem to be looking for Mary Poppins who is “practically perfect in every way.”  She comes with all the right accoutrements in her bag.  The pastor will come to save the day!  The magic bullet!  If they can just get the right pastor all will be well.  The church will grow.  Young people will come in droves.  The finances will be flush.  You name it. The right pastor will make it happen.

But of course pastors are looking for the perfect church.  People who are “sold out” for God, 100% and 100% of the time.  People who will embrace the glorious vision of the future and readily accept the changes and new trajectories necessary for a healthy missional church.  A church that will invite and welcome the visitor and show the seeker the way, care for the poor and the powerless…  The list is long.

Guess what?  There are no perfect churches.  There are no perfect pastors.  We are all dependent on God’s grace, mercy, love and faithfulness.  After all, this about God, not us.  There’s only one Mary Poppins and she’s fictional.  However, it never hurts to tuck a bottle of Dayquil in your bag just in case…

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5 comments Written on November 11th, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

Rev. Mary Putera is an Ordained ECC pastor currently serving as the interim pastor for Sunset Covenant Church in Beaverton Oregon. Mary has served in the ECC for many years as a facilitator of the I2RR and Sankofa journey, as a board member of ACCW and Women’s Ministries and in various pastoral positions in four conferences. She is currently working to complete her PhD in the Theology of Beauty and Community Art practice for social transformation.


As a Maltese-Italian American woman, I am called and gifted by God to serve God’s “kingdom coming” in the vocational role of pastor. I cannot deny it, avoid it, walk away from it or even dislike that which God has brought forth in me, no matter the pain of the struggle. And amidst the joy filled days and holy moments of pastoring, there is pain involved, simply because I am a woman, increased because I am a light brown woman, because I am from the poor, the economically disadvantaged. There is no economic change in my circumstances that can wring out of me the times when electricity, phone, food and heat were scarce or non-existent. There is no economic gain that can erase my experiences as a teen who couch surfed for two years, living on the dangerous margins. There is no avoiding the fact that to be called to pastor by God as a woman in the ECC has its difficulties. And it is good, because I experience deeply, God’s presence and care for me in these places. There is no place I can go where I can leave behind me the 50 years of being, living with, working amongst, standing with and advocating amidst humanity living in the pain of an unjust world. Jesus is the Messiah! Where else is there to go?

As this same woman, I am called to bring forth fearlessly, even if quite imperfectly, the fearfully, wonderfully, uniquely beautiful woman God formed me to be. This for me has been, not a call to subversive ways, but bold, prophetic words, actions, and embodied activities that invite God to form me as God’s living artistry, with all my cracks and scars and hard spots; publicly, for the sake of Christ. If I refuse, then however will God work through weaknesses to bring forth strength in me and in the church and communities I am called to live in? If I give up the truth that I am messy, if I behave in public differently, adopting a cultural polish of adaptation to a mask of privilege, what heart and activity of Jesus forming me, Jesus being seen in me, can ever be witnessed? Continue Reading »

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Moving Beyond The Biblical Debate

8 comments Written on November 4th, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

IMG_0041Jo Ann Deasy is a Covenant pastor who has served in a variety of ministerial roles including Youth Intern, Minister of Christian Education, Dean of Students, and Solo Pastor.  She is currently serving as Director, Institutional Initiatives and Student Research at the Association of Theological Schools in Pittsburgh.


How do I begin to write this blog post?  I’m afraid that after the first few words you’ll stop reading, deem me a heretic, assume that I am just not biblically literate enough.  But here goes…  I don’t feel the need to prove that women can be pastors to anyone who asks.  I probably could prove biblically that I believe women can be pastors, but it would take some work.  To be honest, my head isn’t filled with those few passages that appear to deny women the right to preach and bear rule in the church.  I know roughly where they are.  I know their content.  I know the basic arguments located in each of them.  But I am not an expert on those passages.  I can’t quote all the latest scholarship.  I don’t spend hours studying them.  I don’t have debates and positions memorized and ready to whip out on a moments notice to any stranger or student who challenges my role.  To be honest, I just don’t have time for it.  There are so many other things to think about, to argue about, to be concerned about.

Please don’t take this to mean that I don’t care what the Bible says.  I care deeply about the scripture.  It is the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine, and conduct.  It is the authority that guides my life and my work.  I wouldn’t be a woman pastor if I didn’t feel it was biblical.  I struggled for many years with my call to ministry.  I came to faith in a fairly conservative church and went to a seminary that was deeply divided over the issue.  I spent the early years of my faith in communities that endlessly debated the role of women in the family, in society, in the church.  I spent my early years being presented with amazingly brilliant biblical scholars proving points that were in exact opposition to one another, not just about women, but about a myriad of topics.  How could I, as a relatively new Christian, ever hope to prove my own position when those I respected could not agree on anything? Continue Reading »

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