This is a group of ministers and their spouses. (Mine wasn't present.) The older woman in the back row is a Nazarene pastor. The only other woman pastor in the group is me, second from left, last row. The group also included a Methodist pastor, a Lutheran pastor, a Church of God youth pastor, and a Baptist pastor. I think I have those right. The reason I posted this picture is because I recall conversations among this group about "the call." We were at Cedarly Pastor's Retreat Center, spending a marvelous (and free) week eating gourmet meals, visiting a nearby Anglican Seminary, walking in the woods (wet!), practicing lectio devina and (in my case) sleeping for hours on end from sheer exhaustion. It was fall. A chilly drizzle continued all week until our day to go home, when the picture was taken. We built fires in the fireplace every day, and we shared good fellowship with one another.
Conversation turned to our churches, of course, and then to our calling to ministry. The Nazarene pastor's husband was not present at that time, but as for the wives, some felt just as "called" as their pastor husbands. Others most decidedly did not. Several of the Rev Gals and Pals have spoken about "calling" on their blogs. It is a diverse group of clergy, but everyone, from nuns to Methodists to Lutherans seems to understand that word. I've also been asked to be a guest blogger on The Scroll, the blog of Christians for Biblical Equality, and as part of that I've been writing about my calling to ministry.
I am not sure how many Rev Gals, or other "called" folk may stop by, but I would love to hear your stories. The calling of God is difficult to explain sometimes. And sometimes, especially after running a gamut of emotions and experiences as I did last week, I wonder what God was doing.
You can check out The Scroll once the article (from me and some other clergywomen) has been written and posted. I'll let you know. Meantime, here is a little part of my call story.
It is a very long story, so I'll skip the beginning and I'll skip the end and hop to the middle, not telling you about the longings of my heart when a child, nor my subsequent experiences at Trinity College, North Dakota. My husband had already told me that when he finished his USMC enlistment he wanted to complete his degree in order to enter some kind of full-time ministry. I was more than fine with that. One Sunday night our pastor (Rev. Dave Davidson, Evangel AG, Silver Springs, Maryland--anyone out there?) preached a message about placing God at at the center of life and seeking to arrange other issues around serving Jesus Christ and his Kingdom. We concluded with a time of silent prayer, after being instructed to ask God if there was something we needed to understand about our life in the Spirit. I was tired and hot and wanted to go home, but I did as I was told, acknowledging my rather "unspiritual" state to the Lord as I closed my eyes.
To my utter surprise, as I stilled my thoughts I began to see what I later described as "slides." My dad once had a camera he loved, and he always took slide pictures, which we would later project onto our white living room wall. It was like that, only the "wall" was inside me. The scenes were vivid--and very surprising.
I saw five still pictures, all related to people and to ministry. I was present in each, but never alone in the picture. I won't describe them all, but one caused me great consternation. I was preaching, something I had never done and never intended to do. I wore a suit and I held a black Bible aloft. (Something I don't do, but I sure couldn't miss that I was preaching, not teaching a Sunday School class.)
I opened my eyes and left the church feeling wide awake and startled. For some time I told no one, not even my husband. There is more to the story, of course, but I trace later events, and my search to discover if it was really acceptable for women to preach, to that hot summer night in 1976 in a suburb of Washington, D.C.
It was a while before I acknowledged that what I had seen just might have been the Holy Spirit--but, deep down somewhere, I knew.
Anyone else care to share a little? If you post on your blog, just let me know.