Project Deborah

The Day of the Girl Child

Devyn Chambers Johnson serves as co-pastor of Community Covenant Church in Springfield, Virginia. Devyn, and her husband Ryan, are proud parents to two active young daughters. In addition to serving as co-pastor Devyn is pursuing her Doctorate in Ministry with an emphasis in leadership and ministry development. 

My husband and I are raising two amazing girls who I know will change the world. Our oldest is a natural performer who loves life, exudes joy and turns any social situation into a party. Our youngest, a mere 15 months old, is more reserved but determined, thoughtful and independent.

And they make me see my call as a pastor differently.

I was raised a pastor’s daughter and the most common avenue for ministry that I saw available to women was that of a pastor’s wife. Ironically, I married a pastor and now wear dual hats as both a pastor and a pastor’s spouse.

But my girls see the world so incredibly differently than I did as a young girl.

This summer we drove passed our neighborhood Lutheran church, where my friend serves as pastor and where oldest had attended Vacation Bible School. She began to retell the story of how she got scared but Julia’s mommy let her sit in her office and helped her feel better.

Making conversation I pointed out that Julia’s mom is the pastor of that church. To which my daughter responded “Yeah! She’s really nice.”

Then out of curiosity, and because you never really know the mind of a four year old, I asked “Who’s the pastor at our church?”

And as a true four year old she replied with her newfound know-it-all exasperation “you are mom!”

And I couldn’t help but smile. Not because I needed some sort of affirmation from my four year old but because I realized that to her it was a ridiculously stupid question. Her mom is a pastor (and her dad too!) and while that reality is still foreign to some—it isn’t to her.

And it hit me—that for all the advocacy and training I can provide for women in ministry the greatest gift of my call is the gift of normalcy to a younger generation.



A Resounding “Yes”

Post a Comment » Written on September 5th, 2017     
Filed under: Project Deborah, Testimonies and Stories

Brian Wiele has served since 2006 as the Lead Pastor of River Ridge Covenant Church in Olympia, Washington.  Brian and Linda have been married for 36 years, and have two children and two grandchildren.  He is an avid reader, and wishes he could play golf more frequently.

At Gather ’17 – the annual meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church held in late June – something was formally renewed, a resounding “yes” from the delegates to work done so far and work still to be addressed. As that “yes” was affirmed, there was a silent accompanying “good-bye” said from afar by one person – a farewell spoken with joy and appreciation.  

What was renewed?  The continuing work of the Covenant’s Commission on Biblical Gender Equality.  Formed in 2002, the question comes up every five years – should we continue the work of educating about and advocating for women in ministry?  In those fifteen years, dozens of your fellow Covenanters have served in that effort to create documents, awareness, and hope.  

I am the one who said “good-bye” from afar, as I was not able to participate in Gather this year. I joined the commission in 2011, and served for two three-year terms. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience, and I considered it a special honor to have been asked to lead the effort as chair for four years. Having left the Commission, I have been asked to share some reflections, looking back upon where we’ve come and peering forward into the future.

I am thrilled with the progress that is being made.  We continue to rely upon solid resources [hyper-link to BGE resources here] that were prepared by the first members of the Commission.  But more importantly, we see an increase in gifted women thriving in various ministry callings, in the local church, in Covenant leadership, and in various segments of our culture.  As I write this, the new Chair of the Commission, Abby Jones, has begun her work as Lead Pastor at Paradise Valley Community Church in Phoenix.  Abby is the first woman to lead a multi-staff congregation in the Pacific Southwest Conference. May her tribe increase!

As I think about the present situation, with many women languishing without a call, and search committees refusing to look at their profiles, I’m struggling for a different word to use beside “discouraged”.  I am grateful for and appreciate how the Covenant works, where each congregation makes their own decisions. As a result, denominational leadership has no leverage in bringing about change.  Part of the Covenant DNA is to “keep the peace”, which often prevents pastors from starting the women in leadership conversation in their churches out of fear of potential dissension and division.  This is our disheartening reality, which means in one sense not much has happened after fifteen years of work for the Commission.  

I know well that pastoral concern, because that’s exactly how I operated for the first twenty years of my vocational ministry. My view on women in leadership had evolved by studying the scriptures more carefully, but I didn’t let my theology effect who preached on Sundays or who served as leadership Chair. That changed when my convictions were given a name, a gifted woman in our midst named Colette who was on a home assignment from her mission work in Mexico.

Which is why I am hopeful in leaving the Commission. In 2017 we launched Project Deborah, a wonderful set of tools for pastors and congregations.  Looking at the Old Testament leader raised up by God, people are encouraged to ask the questions: who are the gifted women in our midst?  Could God be raising up a Deborah among us, and what are we doing about that?  The Commission believes that Project Deborah will have a long-term effect, as dozens of individual women will be affirmed and encouraged in their local settings.

It may sound like I’m overstating the case, but my life has been changed by serving on the Commission for Biblical Gender Equality.  The issue of women in leadership has become far more for me than just another interpretive matter over which we can agree to disagree. To quote John Weborg, “all God’s people are called and gifted.” To prevent half the Church from fulfilling their call by misinterpreting a couple of difficult passages deeply offends me, and I believe it breaks God’s heart also. I will continue to advocate for women to serve passionately and faithfully in the Kingdom wherever God calls them.

I am so grateful for the leadership and encouragement I have received from the staff of Develop Leaders, especially Mark Novak and Carol Lawson.  It has been a joy and an honor to serve alongside them and so many others in this crucial work. There is admittedly still much to be done, but I have no doubt that God also contributes a resounding “yes” to his daughters who faithfully serve Him.  



Christian Relationships

1 Comment » Written on February 21st, 2017     
Filed under: Project Deborah, Testimonies and Stories
The following is the eighth and final post 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. 

Sarah Ago is Pastor of Compassion, Justice and Missions at Hillside Covenant Church in Walnut Grove, California.

I am a woman called to minister as a pastor in the body of Christ. My ministry journey is layered with men who called out my pastoral gifting and stoked the fire of my ministry. I find it especially sweet that the loudest voices of affirmation for my work are brothers who regularly cheer me on. They speak life to me. Their words breathe the oxygen of perseverance into my lungs when the journey seems impossible. They are my band of brothers.

Here are just a few of their contributions to my ministry.

I think of one dear brother that I served with in my first ministry job as an intern. Pastoral ministry was not in my purview. It was a new idea to me since I had grown up in conservative churches where men did all of the leading.

This brother said something to me that I never forgot. He said, “If you were a pastor, I would go to your church.” That statement took me by surprise and planted a seed in my heart. I thought to myself, if he, a seminary graduate and pastor, would entrust his spiritual feeding to me, maybe I should consider that a ministry calling was in me.

Another brother opened the door for me to preach my first sermon. Based solely on the recommendation of a friend, he asked me to preach at our young adult service. He had every reason to want to hear me himself or read through my manuscript beforehand! But, he chose to simply trust me. He opened a door that I had not even knocked on and gave me my start in preaching.

A brother that I currently serve with affirms my gifts and trusts me to address difficult and controversial subjects in Sunday morning sermons. He has opened the pulpit to me, inviting me to partner with him in preaching. He affirms my leadership and wholeheartedly receives my contributions to various avenues of ministry at the church. His partnership is a special gift.

During difficult seasons in ministry, another brother regularly checks in and mentors me through challenges and obstacles. He consistently spurs me on, challenges me, and advocates for me. He tells me to keep going when I want to give up. His counsel has kept me from making decisions I would regret.

A current colleague gently nudges me forward in my calling. He receives pastoral care from me and he offers me that same care. He prays for me in my sermon preparation, gives me feedback on my messages, and affirms and encourages me daily.

I am thankful for my husband of thirteen years who never stops believing in me. In many ways, he opened up the world of church ministry to me! He is the reason we moved to California, and it is in this place that my ministry journey in churches began.

Personal note: In the most adorable way, he gets nervous for me every time I preach, and he always has positive comments for me afterward.

There are more—the man who was instrumental during the period of my ordination, the man who gave me my first ministry job, the man who mentored me during another transition in ministry, the man who advocated for me as a nursing mom seeking to pastor during that challenging time, men in my congregation who express deep appreciation for my teaching and leadership. The list goes on.

I am simply grateful for each of them. These men of God embody the kingdom partnership that needs to happen in the body of Christ.

My band of brothers, the men who support my ministry, does not seek to rescue me from difficulties. They do not demean me by assuming weakness. They are not intimidated by my human emotions. They do not demand of me or pretend to know what is best. They are simply life-giving and at times, challenging, voices. They care enough to ask the tough questions and to show me where my thinking is faulty or incomplete.

They are eyes that see God’s call upon me. They are a supportive and affirming presence along what is often a difficult ministry journey.

Women are oppressed all around the world today, as it has been throughout history. That fact must never be ignored or overlooked. We need to be aware of it. It is vital that we advocate for the full equality of women in society and in church.

But, we should also recognize the men among us who are living differently. These men have chosen to see their sisters as equals. They champion and partner with us, benefiting the work of the kingdom around the world.

To the men who read this, I ask you, “Which female leaders do you need to affirm, encourage, and nudge forward?” You might be the voice that plants the seed in their heart that reveals their calling. You might be the voice that keeps them moving forward when they feel like giving up.  You might be the voice that figuratively holds up their arms when their strength is gone.

To the women who read this, I ask you to look at your life and identify the men who have been life-giving voices to you. Who has opened doors? Who has planted seeds? Who has affirmed you? Celebrate those life-giving male voices.

The advocacy role that men can play for women in ministry cannot be overstated. My band of brothers has repeatedly opened doors, nudged me forward, and encouraged me on my journey. Men, I ask you to consider who you can affirm in this way. Your support just might launch a woman’s ministry or sustain a woman in ministry who wants to give up.

 



Acknowledgement and Celebration of My Call

2 comments Written on February 14th, 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 seventh 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. 

Rose Lee-Norman is Associate Pastor of Family Ministry at Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis Minnesota.

When I came to Sanctuary Covenant Church 6.5 years ago I knew it would be a call unlike any other. It was a call that aligned so many of my passions – urban ministry in North Minneapolis, a call to reconciliation and justice, and children and family discipleship, yet I was still so young and new in my calling as a pastor. I have grown and been stretched in many ways  and by many people over the year. In particular was our Senior Pastor Pastor Dennis Edwards who not only acknowledged my call to ministry, but also pushed me further in it. Through his shepherding I have grown in ways I never thought possible. I have conquered almost every ministry fear I had going in to my call and I have felt supported through every step of the way.

Not only does he give me equal and regular opportunities to preach and lead as the other male associate pastors on staff, he has affirmed and uplifted my specific gifts in significant ways. Not long after I began preaching more regularly we co-preached during a church-wide series on reconciliation. As we preached on reconciliation among gender and specifically giftings in the church, he said something that will forever be etched in my mind and my heart. He said that when I am preaching and leading our church he is under my authority and teaching. It is something so simple, yet was and still is so significant. God used that moment and those words to legitimize my call in a very deep way. It wasn’t his approval I needed of my call, but his acknowledgement and celebration of it that made such an impact. His humble and intentional leadership has allowed me to discover my gifts, to make mistakes, to value my calling, and to utilize and strengthen my pastoral leadership. I am thankful for his faithful shepherding and stewardship of my development as a pastor.

 



Woman with a Vision

1 Comment » Written on February 7th, 2017     
Filed under: Project Deborah, Testimonies and Stories
This is the sixth of a series of eight posts that are introducing Project Deborah, an initiative of the Commission for Biblical Gender Equality to inspire leaders to mentor and encourage women to respond to God’s call. These are the stories of those who have had such experiences along their journey. Rev. Dany Flores is Pastor at Iglesia del Pacto Vida Plena, Oak Park, Illinois. She was ordained in 2013.

I am a first generation in my family to immigrate in the United States. In my testimony I always say that the greatest thing that the United States has given me has been exposure to the Good News. I am the first generation in my family of Christians. I consider myself a brave woman with a vision; I see obstacles as opportunities and ways that one can grow.  Very early on in my walk with Christ I knew that God was going to use me. I was involved in many different ministries from singing on the worship team to being director of Sunday School at my local church.

I have been in a variety of leadership roles in the Central Conference such as Executive board, as well as for the denomination level as treasurer for MHIPE.

God has given me the privilege to be an ordained minister in Word and Sacrament within the ECC. I thank God for Rev. Jolene B. Carlson for being my mentor during my second church plant, Vida Plena Covenant Church. Jolene was someone who was willing to listen to my story. She was able to guide me and encourage me to trust in the Lord in the many “hats” that as women we have in society, trust that the Lord has called me as minister, trust that the Lord was in the midst of my parenting, trust that the Lord would grant me wisdom in my marriage, so that I could serve with love and devotion. This mentorship has allowed me to be of influence in the Latino community encouraging my brothers and sisters to continue with their theological studies, so that they too can serve with love and devotion.



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.

 



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.



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!

 



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!

 



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.