Archive for January, 2017

Blessed

3 comments Written on January 31st, 2017     
Filed under: Project Deborah, Testimonies and Stories
erka (2)Erika Haub is Associate Pastor at Shoreline Covenant Church in Shoreline, Washington.  Her post is number five in a series of brief stories from a group of eight women who describe their personal experience(s) in being either mentored or encouraged to follow the calling of God to become a pastor. This is part of an initiative of the Commission on Biblical Gender Equality to be known as Project Deborah. Our hope is that you might also respond to God’s “nudge” to develop a Deborah that may be in your midst.

I am struck by God’s grace to me in my own process of being called, as a woman, to pastoral ministry. It is good for me to remember the different people who, both directly and indirectly, were used by God in the formation of my own sense of calling as fully gifted to preach and lead.

There were Priscilla Pope-Levison and Jodi Mullen Fondell who served as chaplains at North Park during my years as a student there and who gave me some of my first speaking opportunities.

There was Brenda Salter McNeil who came and spoke in chapel when I was a freshman and gave me my first preaching role model.

There was David Nystrom who invited me to share his speaking time and address Covenant leaders at Midwinter, and Kristina Nystrom who invited me to share her teaching time at a Conference Women’s Retreat.

There was the house-church in Chicago that invited me to preach my very first sermon.

There were Mary Miller and Jay Phelan who took my writing seriously and gave me platforms to share it.

There were David Horner and Carl Balsam who, though we did not always see eye to eye, treated me with respect and gave me a place at the table.

There was Ginny Olson who was a friend, mentor, and ministry companion in my journey into urban ministry.

There was Art Nelson who modeled prophetic leadership and encouraged me to lead with courage.

There was Glenn Palmberg who made sure that I knew how valuable I was to my denomination.

There was Henry Greenidge, the kind of pastor I dream of being, who invited me onto his staff and into his pulpit.

There was David Greenidge who took me under his wing and walked beside me in my early development as a pastor.

There was Pastor Mike Guerrero who gave me opportunities to teach and lead in the church that raised me.

There was and is my husband, the son of a preacher-mom, who said yes to my calling at every juncture.

There were scholars and teachers at Fuller Seminary like Marianne-Meye Thompson, John Thompson, Miroslav Volf and John Goldingay who validated my call and my gifts.

There was Danny Martinez who treated me like a ministry equal while church-planting in Los Angeles.

There was Evelyn Johnson who endlessly encouraged me to be all that God had made me to be.

There was Scot McKnight who regularly profiled my writing and linked to my blog, greatly expanding my writing platform.

There was Don Robinson who told a room full of colleagues that I was one of the best preachers in our region.

There were Keith and Florence Gustafson, lifelong friends and ministry partners, who tied a red string of blessing and affirmation onto my wrist on the eve of my ordination.

And there were my parents who “opened all the windows” and believed that I could do anything.

May it be that I too would have eyes to see how I might be used to shape the hearts and dreams of those coming after me.

 

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Encourager, Affirmer, Mentor

1 Comment » Written on January 24th, 2017     
Filed under: Project Deborah, Testimonies and Stories
pegThe following post is the fourth in a series of brief stories from a group of eight women who describe their personal experience(s) in being either mentored or encouraged to follow the calling of God to become a pastor. This is part of an initiative of the Commission on Biblical Gender Equality to be known as Project Deborah. Our hope is that you might also respond to God’s “nudge” to develop a Deborah that may be in your midst. Peg Melhaff has worked in Children’s ministry for over 20 years starting in the nursery, then as a teacher and now as pastor of Children’s Ministry at River Ridge Covenant Church in Olympia Washington.

I found myself answering a call of need when I stepped into the position of children’s ministry director at River Ridge Covenant Church in 2004. Our church went through a painful split and I was asked by parents of children to stay on and continue teaching and leading.

One year later Brian Wiele was called to fill the lead role at RRCC. Brian invited me to be part of the weekly staff meetings, something I had only recently been invited to by the interim pastor. Brian essentially gave me the opportunity to be part of a team approach in the leadership of the church and convinced me that he valued my input and assessment of the needs of the church. Through team building efforts, staff retreats and regular meetings I was encouraged to contribute and often sought out for my opinion. We sought God’s will together as a team. The following year I was encouraged to attend mid-winter along with other staff.

It was at mid-winter that I heard God calling me to ministry. I had been debating returning to my nursing career and cutting back on my volunteer hours but I heard God asking me to make children’s ministry my career for now, that He would provide the resources I needed to make that work for our family.

Brian was so encouraging during this discernment process. Upon my return from mid-winter we discussed office space at the church, more involvement with the staff and regular meetings to check in with one another about children and our children’s program. I was now a part of long range planning meetings and was encouraged to be on the platform Sunday mornings in different ways.

Before long Brian was encouraging me to pursue a ministry license and then proposed that I become a paid employee. This is my 5th year with the bi-vocational license but more than the license Brian has made me a peer. He is an encourager, a mentor, a shepherd, an affirmer of God’s work and presence in my life. He has a gift of non-judgmental acceptance and love that bring out the “Deborah” in myself and other women he has encouraged in our congregation. I am not sure I could have pursued the call if it were not for his mentorship and encouragement.

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You Have To Be Kidding

3 comments Written on January 17th, 2017     
Filed under: Project Deborah, Testimonies and Stories
The following post is the third in a series of brief stories from a group of eight women who describe their personal experience(s) in being either mentored or encouraged to follow the calling of God to become a pastor. This is part of an initiative of the Commission on Biblical Gender Equality to be known as Project Deborah. Our hope is that you might also respond to God’s “nudge” to develop a Deborah that may be in your midst. Margaret “Peg” Kohring, serves as Community Life Pastor at Covenant Community Church in South Bend, IN

My beloved mother’s god was science. She often said that soon science would explain everything. I lived comfortably with her moniker of atheist and became a scientist as well.

When I was 53 my mother passed away and I thought, it was time to purse my interest of caring for children in poverty. As I surveyed the area, Harbert Community Church’s Half-Day Program gave the best care for families and children in poverty. I gave money and then was asked to lead a walk for the kids. Later, I accepted an invitation to church. I thought, this was going to be a good social club to join because of the community commitment.

After a couple months Pastor Kyle Small asked me to a Bible study. I bought a paperback Bible thinking I would only read it once. As I struggled to find John, I told Kyle it would be better if this book was alphabetized. This began a journey to accept Jesus as Lord of my life and becoming a disciple.

Four years later, I burst into Kyle’s office to tell him I was offered the presidency position of a major conservation organization. Kyle said, “no, you ought to pray about going to seminary.” I told him, “You have to be kidding. Why would I want to go to seminary?”

Three weeks later, I started seminary and sat surrounded by young men who earnestly told me that they wanted to be pastors all their life. I thought, why in the world am I here? I don’t want to be a pastor. Fortunately, Pastor Ron Magnuson saw the potential in me and met regularly with me.

Seminary required several internships. Pastor Jay Fast, now the Lead Pastor, suggested that I consider a nearby ECC church to grow into my pastoral identity. I met with Pastor Ryan Cooper, who invited me to serve my internship at Covenant Community Church in South Bend. Six months later, I was called to be the Community Life Pastor at Covenant Community Church where I joyfully serve as a licensed bi-vocational pastor and hope to be ordained in 2018. What a blessing be mentored by many who recognized God’s calling when I did not!

 

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The First to Call Me “Pastor”

1 Comment » Written on January 10th, 2017     
Filed under: Project Deborah, Testimonies and Stories
This is both the 125th anniversary of the Evangelical Covenant Church as well as the 40th anniversary of the ECC’s decision to ordain women as pastors. The following post is the second in a series of brief stories from a group of eight women who describe their personal experience(s) in being either mentored or encouraged to follow the calling of God to become a pastor. This is part of an initiative of the Commission on Biblical Gender Equality to be known as Project Deborah. Our hope is that you might also respond to God’s “nudge” to develop a Deborah that may be in your midst.

Char Rotvold is the Care and Connections Pastor at Faith Covenant Church in Burnsville, Minnesota

I have served as the Care Pastor at our church since August 1, 2008, have been licensed in the ECC since November 2010, and was ordained this past June. As I like to say, I was the “last one” to see that God was calling me to pastoral ministry! God, in His goodness and because He knows me so well, used a number of others to speak this call into my life…

I had been a stay-at-home mom for 9 years, serving part-time in Children’s Ministry at our church for 8 of those years. It was that position that allowed God to use me as a “pastor” to many young families at our church, as well as to volunteers of all ages (men and women).

A new care pastor was called to our church toward the end of that time, and he asked me to teach a parent class for him (one that I had been teaching for several years). I agreed, I taught, he observed, and he asked shortly after if I would serve alongside him as Director of Adult Ministries. I accepted, and less than two years later, he left our church and I was entrusted with his role as care pastor.

His name is Mark, and he’s not a Covenant pastor, but he played a significant role in my journey, mentoring and shepherding me and being the first to call me “pastor” (as an observed call/gifting, before my name ever bore that title). He listened, asked a lot of questions, prodded and challenged and encouraged me, and when it came time for him to move on to another ministry opportunity, he boldly said “I choose you.”

He was the first, but not the only, person to speak this call into my life. Five others from our church independently spoke this to me, giving this stay-at-home mom and part-time ministry worker the confidence and courage needed to receive and step into this call.

8+ years later, I have finished my seminary work and have been received into the ECC as an ordained pastor. I have been overwhelmingly supported and encouraged every step along the way by those with whom I have served and by those in our congregation. I am a living testimony of the power of another to speak truth and a life call, and I look forward to having the opportunity to speak this way into the lives of others!

 

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Living Into The Very Good

3 comments Written on January 3rd, 2017     
Filed under: Project Deborah, Testimonies and Stories
This is both the 125th anniversary of the Evangelical Covenant Church as well as the 40th anniversary of the ECC’s decision to ordain women as pastors. Over the next two months we will be featuring brief stories from eight women who will describe their personal experience(s) in being either mentored or encouraged to follow the calling of God to become a pastor. This is part of an initiative of the Commission on Biblical Gender Equality to be known as Project Deborah. Our hope is that you might also respond to God’s “nudge” to develop a Deborah that may be in your midst.

My name is Sarah Henry and I am a pastor with the Evangelical Covenant Church, though many in my past may be surprised to know this. Though I had no examples of female preachers or ministers in my early history and many opportunities to encounter destructive understandings of women in the church, God delivered me to ministry by the hands of incredible women of God. After being told that perhaps I had never read the Bible or being pushed to deny my call, I came to North Park University.

At North Park I encountered two incredible women preachers, Rev. Alise Barrymore and Judy Howard Peterson. Each chapel expanded my understanding of the woman and myself. To hear God’s Word proclaimed eloquently, boldly, and effectively week after week moved me to pursue my own path in preaching.

In the same way, Professor Ginny Olson (author, teacher, and youth ministry expert) guided my entire class of expectant learners into a deeper understanding of the purposefulness of youth in God’s kingdom. It was through Ginny that I met Pastor Diana Shiftlett. Diana is a minister at Naperville Covenant Church. Myself and two other young women began to drive to her church each week to share our lives and to gain insight through her gift of counsel. Weeks turned into years and Pastor Diana pointed me in the direction of self-healing and pastoral ministry.

These women propelled me into a life of service. My wonderful chaplains showed me that being a woman in ministry was not sinful or against God, but right in line with the Kingdom work. It was living into the “very good” God intended. Ginny Olsen pushed me to intern at multiple churches and ministries, preaching, teaching, planning, and sharpening the gifts that God had given me. Pastor Diana to this day pushes me to live deeper into my call.

I am grateful for those that challenged my call because of my gender. They are the reason I asked questions. They are the reason I am so sure of it now. But even more so, I am grateful for those that have gone before. Women that have painstakingly laid the foundations, so that people like me can walk boldly down the path that God has gifted us with. Thank you Alise, Judy, Ginny, and Diana. You may never know the impact you’ve had on my life.

 

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