Kansas Church Creates a ‘First’ With Pastoral Call

Post a Comment » Written on October 27th, 2008     
Filed under: News
TOPEKA, KS (October 27, 2008) – Brookwood Covenant Church was not making any kind of political statement or trying to advance a cause when the congregation called Heidi Wiebe to serve as pastor.

In doing so, however, they became the only church in the denomination to have both a senior and associate female pastor, according to the Department of the Ordered Ministry.

The church had two primary reasons for calling Wiebe, says associate pastor Joan Porter, who was a longtime member before being called to her position in 1991. “They were willing to consider God’s calling and gifting – and because of her experience.”

Wiebe started at the church in June and officially was installed earlier this month. An earlier installation service had to be postponed because Wiebe’ mother, Marie Wiebe, died the previous week.

Wiebe has served Grandview Covenant Church in Larchwood, Iowa, and the Evangelical Covenant Church in Oberlin, Kansas. She also is concluding her term as president of the Ministerium.

The new pastor is excited to help the church as it goes through a revitalization process. “They wanted someone who could help them do what God is calling them to do,” Wiebe says. “We’re moving forward with some new strategies.”

Although most of the congregation has enthusiastically welcomed Wiebe, several members did leave as a result of the vote. Those who left had accepted Porter in an associate’s role because she served with male senior pastors, Porter says.

Porter is proud of the search committee. “I think the search committee did the hard thing and did the right thing,” she says. “It would have been easier for them not to call her, but they focused on her gifts.”

Neither Porter nor Wiebe want to make a big deal of their unique pairing, but believe it can encourage other churches and women in ministry in general. “I would like to get to the place as a generation that it’s not about gender,” Wiebe says. “I’m glad we’re getting to that place,” Wiebe says.

That journey has not been fully realized yet, and Wiebe hopes more congregations will recognize the gifts of women who are serving as well as current seminarians. “If we don’t have churches for them, the Covenant will lose some excellent people.”

Wiebe actually is the third-generation of women ministers in her family. Marie Wiebe was serving as associate pastor of Simi Valley Covenant Church in Simi Valley, California, when she was ordained in 1983. The next year, she became the first ordained woman to plant a Covenant church. Wiebe’s grandmother was a non-Covenant missionary to China from 1930-1950.

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