This article is dedicated to all women who have been called to Ministry by God over the years.
“This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people, your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:16-21)
“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, and of love, and of self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:5-7)
Gareth Hill, a British Methodist Pastor, had written a poem about ordaining women titled, “Called to the Kingdom for a Time like This.” “Chosen and precious to you, Lord. Here in this moment, here in this place, we stand in answer to your call for a time like this. Before you formed us in the womb you knew your chosen purpose for our days: to be the prophets, to speak your Word, to help the nations know your plan to make all things new. And in the dark days you said, ‘do not fear, I am beginning, I am end.’ You stood beside us, your promise sure. You held us in the grip of grace and dried every tear. Why you have called us is a mystery; can any good thing come from us? Yet we are faithful and trust in you. We pledge to serve your Kingdom’s cause: to change history.”
On May 25, 1988, I was ordained as a United Methodist Minister to Word, Order and Sacrament. I had just graduated, earlier in May 1988, from the Methodist Theological School in Ohio with a Masters of Divinity degree and a Masters of Arts in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Ministry. This year, I will be celebrating my 32nd Anniversary as an Ordained Minister in the United Methodist Church. I have been honored and blessed to have served fourteen churches, under appointment, with many District Superintendents under eight Episcopal Bishops. I also lived in fourteen parsonages during these years. Four of these churches, I was appointed and served in Southern West Virginia.
As a fully ordained clergywoman, I have had some challenges just because of my gender. Some church members, in my past, had never had a woman minister as their pastor before and they struggled with it, usually with negative consequences for me, and for my family. I have had, in my early years of ministry, experienced—- anonymous hate mail, anonymous harassing telephone calls, and experienced many “out in the parking lot discussions” about my call to ministry and my seriousness to my avocation because I am a woman, wife and mother with two children; while my husband who was also part of this clergy couple did not have these questions or hardships (a double standard perhaps?)I have been faithful in my call to Ministry and I believe in Perseverance; which means to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty. I do not dwell on these negative events now because this was in the past, and we are in a changing world. Now there are a lot more female ordained elders, deacons, student local pastors, certified lay speakers and of course district superintendents and female Bishops. And all for the better for the Kingdom of God.
With much thought and prayer, I have decided to officially retire as an United Methodist Minister on July 1, 2020. I was hoping to invite people to this year’s annual conference for the retirement ceremony, but the conference has been postponed for a later date. I do not know when.
All of us, whether clergy or lay people, need to minister to one another in encouragement whether we are male or female, old or young, rich or poor—we need to lift up and to encourage others to listen for God’s Call to make Disciples for Jesus Christ. We need to continue to encourage others in deepening their faith. The People of God, who are not the building, but are the living church, the Body visible, in our world, need to continue to win over the world with the reality of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ.
“You are all Children of God through Faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were Baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3: 26-29)
“Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles; it takes away today’s peace.”
“Prayer is not a “Spare Wheel” that you pull out when in trouble, but it is a “Steering Wheel” that directs the right path throughout.”
“If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” ~~ Mother Theresa
May the God of hope fill you with Harmony, Joy and Peace. God’s Blessings to you. Rev. Jane