Archive for May, 2015

Sustaining Women Clergy: A Call to Action

4 comments Written on May 27th, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

Corrie Gustafson is an ordained Covenant pastor and the Pacific Southwest liaison for Advocates for Covenant Clergy Women (ACCW). She currently serves as the Pastor to Women at Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, California. She blogs regularly at

Gustafson, Corrie_crLast month I attended the Pacific Southwest Conference annual meeting and there I hosted a gathering for clergy women. 15 women showed up, among them chaplains, staff pastors, senior pastors, bivocational ministers, non-profit leaders, and conference staff. We had a time of open sharing framed by this question: where do you see the ink of the Holy Spirit in your ministry?

I’ve attended many such gatherings over the years, and now hosted a handful. I’ve learned that camaraderie among women clergy is a critical force in sustaining our ministry in the church and the world. It’s incredibly encouraging to both testify to and bear witness to God’s work through women with such diverse calls and gifts.

Despite the many inspiring stories, there’s always a sobering element to our meetings. I’ve never been to a gathering of Covenant clergy women that was unburdened by a story, or stories, of pain. Like the story of a staff pastor who resigned because she was bullied by her senior pastor. Or the testimony of a pastor who serves her church faithfully and her efforts are bearing rich fruit, but she is paid significantly less than her male colleagues of the same experience and education level. Or a pastor who bravely took a call to lead a struggling church (a call declined by several male candidates) and the slow climb to congregational health is blamed on her perceived “lack of experience.” Continue Reading »

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Between History and Hope… we walk along… together?

4 comments Written on May 19th, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

IMG_2381Rev. Mary Putera is an Ordained ECC pastor serving as the interim pastor at Sunset Covenant Church in Beaverton Oregon.  Mary also serves nationally and globally in peace building and community resiliency efforts.

In the past two years I have lost 4 clergy colleagues from the ECC Covenant Ministerium, not to death; but to death of hope.  Loss of Hope that the ONE who befriends us is actually powerful enough to form us into deeply respectful, mutually honoring, diverse and embracing, loving mission friends.  History, because it is systemically entrenched, seems to have a mighty hold on us believers.

I am heartbroken by these losses.  These are women and men of God who truly have been befriended by God and separated from our ECC church community.  These pastors are all called by God, affirmed by our community, and became dismembered from us.  Is it because history forms us more strongly than Hope?  I wonder.  For me there is not blame, just lament, lament that where we are is not where we could be.  Lament that it is possible, that where we are headed is not where God would have us be going for the sake of, with God, giving birth to the Kingdom community here on earth. Continue Reading »

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Remembering Mom

5 comments Written on May 12th, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

Catherine Gilliard is co-senior pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary and is a DMin candidate of the Association of Chicago Theological Schools (ACTS) with an expected graduation date of May 2015.

top (1)I remember how hard it was for me the first year that I didn’t find myself in the store in front of the Hallmark cards display reading through the poetic verses written on Mother’s Day cards. I remember reading card after card until I found the one that expressed my thanks to my mother for the sacrifices she made for me. I could never have imagined the depth of these feelings the first time I stood, in this aisle, before these cards, knowing that I would never need to buy another one, ever. That was in 2008. If I had known the card I purchased in May of that year would be my last, I would have wanted it to be about the ways my Mom’s faith has influenced mine.

This year, I have walked with many of my friends and colleagues who have joined me in this circle of remembering our Mom. I started once again to think about how God used my Mom to strengthen my faith as a guide and model for me of how to be a witness and a vessel of God’s mercy and grace.

I thank my Mom for the ways in which she modeled her dependence upon the Holy Spirit. As a young child, I never knew the details of the problems she faced but I always knew Mom was going through something when I heard her singing “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” from the kitchen. And now in my times of personal crisis I find myself singing these words in the kitchen and finding new hope in God’s promises. Continue Reading »

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Living Into Our Convictions

2 comments Written on May 4th, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

Jo Ann Deasy is an ordained Covenant pastor currently serving as the director of institutional initiatives and student research at the Association of Theological Schools in Pittsburgh, PA.

imageAs most of you already know, I am very committed to biblical gender equality. I am an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church, was the senior pastor of a church, wrote a dissertation on how churches form identity in young women, and consider myself a pretty serious feminist. In the last 9 months, though, all of that has been put to the test. What has challenged all of my beliefs and made me question my own commitments? Church shopping… Yes, church shopping.

Last July I moved to Moon, Pennsylvania, a city just west of Pittsburgh, a city with no Covenant churches. Yes, there are Covenant churches in Pittsburgh, but with a toddler the 45 minute Sunday morning commute into Declan’s naptime (as well as the minimum 60 minute weekday evening commute) just isn’t possible. I’d really like to find something that is closer to home, something we can eventually be involved in during the week as well as on Sundays. So, I began church shopping.

I have met some lovely people. Heard some decent sermons. Enjoyed some great worship. Of course, I’ve also been ignored, struggled with a squirming toddler through a service with no childcare, heard some terrible music, and been shocked by how quickly you can realize you don’t fit theologically with a congregation. Mostly, though, I’ve been challenged to figure out what my non-negotiables are. I’ve been challenged to think of church through the eyes of my son. I’ve had to decide what is most important to me as I consider what I want my son to understand about God and about women pastors.

Do I choose a congregation that has great worship, a strong children’s ministry, but does not believe in women in ministry? Is a church with a woman pastor enough? Even if they have no children’s programs? What if they say they are supportive of women, but always use male language for human beings? No gender neutral language of any kind. What if they use gender neutral language for human beings but never for God? What if they do use gender inclusive language, support women pastors, but don’t affirm scripture the same way that I do? Or what if I just don’t like the worship? What if I don’t feel like I am getting anything out of the sermons even though they are preached by a woman pastor with a theology that I agree with? Continue Reading »

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