A little over a year ago I wrote about a convention I was attending with my chaplain husband. I mentioned that about 13% of Assemblies of God clergy are female, but only about 1.6 percent of those women serve as either "senior" or "solo" pastors.
The percentage is dropping by a bit.
I have resigned as the pastor of Jubilee. I will be their pastor until the end of February. After that--I don't know what I'll be doing.
For almost a year I have sensed change in the works, but I did not know what form it would take. Then late last summer I got what I think was one of those "nudges" from the Spirit, but didn't know what to think. When I went on sabbatical I hoped to return with renewed energy, focus, and authority--that didn't happen. The first week of my time away I felt I was to leave my congregation, and that it would be soon. I did not want that. I still don't want that, in many ways. I returned from sabbatical more tired than when I left, telling those who wondered that I had been "wrestling with God like Jacob at Bethel." That is just how I felt. I raged. I cried. I hollered. I prayed. I said, "I WILL NOT LET YOU GO UNLESS YOU BLESS ME!" You know the drill? Nothing happened to indicate to me that I was wrong and that I needed to stay.
Long story short, last Sunday I resigned. I cried. The congregation cried. We hugged one another with tears running down our faces. So much for these stoical Wisconsin folks. :-) That was so difficult it is indescribable. I love these dear little "sheep" of mine. They love me too. I've had detractors, and even enemies who would have rejoiced to see me resign, but they are gone. I thought to myself, "Are you CRAZY leaving a congregation where the people LOVE you?"
Part of the struggle I have waged for the last four months is that I do not know what to do now. My husband is not leaving his ministry at the prison, so that means I have a limited geographical area to choose from. There is no pulpit waiting for me, at least not that I know of as of now.
I need a paycheck. Do I apply for a secular job? Do I do temp work? Do I start sending resumes? I do not know. I'm giving myself a few days to get my thoughts together, but I will need to take some step soon. But which direction?
I would LOVE to travel and minister in different places. I don't necessarily think I will pastor again, though I am not opposed to that. I also know how difficult it can be these days to try to "make a living" by speaking in churches.
For now I am grieving. I am grieving for hopes I had that were not fulfilled, for my dear congregation that I know I hurt, for people I love, for no longer being part of that 1.6 per cent. (I don't know why that matters, but it does.)
Here are just a few pictures of Jubilee people from over the last eight years. I know a few of my church people do stop in here from time to time. I love you, and I pray God's blessings for each of you, and for the church as a whole. God is still God, and God still has a plan.
Prayers appreciated. God, HELP!