This month we celebrate the gift that is people ordained in August! Kicking off the party is Liz Crumlish. Minister in the Church of Scotland, ordained 23 years ago this month. Liz is a long time RevGal, a member of the board of trustees of RGBP, and super awesome. One of the fab things about my own new call is how often I get to see Liz!
As usual, I asked her to share about her journey into ministry, her advice for those being ordained this month, and something exciting about being in ministry at this time in history.
Join the party by sharing your own August ordiversary thoughts, too!
Islands have a very special place in my stories of calling:
More than 30 years ago, I was cycling home from church one Sunday afternoon on the idyllic Scottish island of Tiree when I announced to my husband that I felt I was being called into full time ministry. I was working in a Haematology lab and was heavily involved in church youth work and had a notion that it might be good to focus on the youth work. As my training developed, however, I recognised a call to Hospital Chaplaincy and, five years after leaving the lab, I returned to the same hospital as its first whole time Chaplain. I realised that the hospital environment was one in which I was comfortable and the relationships I had forged while working in Haematology opened many doors.
On 30th August 1995, I was ordained in a local church because ordination into anything other than a pastoral charge was beyond the Presbytery’s imagination at that time and then, at a later date, a service was held in the hospital refectory. Even on that solemn occasion, I couldn’t help thinking of how incongruous it was to see colleagues dressed in robes processing into the dining area of a busy hospital while joy and sorrow and life and death played out nearby.
Seven years and two children later, while leading a retreat for Palliative Care staff on the Island of Iona, I discerned a call to parish ministry. Both parishes that I served proved to be good and nurturing environments for our family. Our son Ruaridh was born the summer I graduated from Divinity School and our daughter Zara was born while I was serving as Hospital Chaplain, and have both simply been a part of my ministry.
Three years ago, I was called out of Pastoral Ministry to lead a renewal project in the Church of Scotland, seeking to change the culture of inherited church so that, together, we can discern and participate in the mission of God today. Path of Renewal encourages folk to stop doing what they’ve always done and ask: “What is God’s purpose for us in this place, individually and in community?” Inevitably that involves change which many perceive as loss and a huge part of my role is walking alongside leaders as they make the transition and as they encourage and help equip congregations to explore their gifts and calling.
Gifts honed in hospital ministry and in the parish have proved invaluable in this role, especially as I accompany folk through all the stages of grief and letting go before they are able to perceive a new reality.
For me, it’s been a lonelier road to walk in ministry not being surrounded by the community of a parish. I’ve also discovered that, not having the rhythm of seasonal worship prep, it’s all the more important to establish and maintain a rule of life that helps nurture healthy spiritual practices.
This is an exciting time to be involved in ministry because so much of tradition is being challenged and dismantled. And there is great diversity in the opportunities for service. In many ways that gives great freedom to forge new paths.
One of the things I’ve learned in ministry is that it is important to work out what, for you, is essential, those things that are foundational and then be prepared to change everything else, holding lightly to things so that compromise is easy. And, if it matters to you, there is always more than one way to reach a goal – it may involve a lot of tacking in the wind – small, incremental steps in directions that seem to make little sense at the time but that sometimes allow folk to adjust to an idea or to catch up with the winds of change. Such “tactics” are usually more fruitful than head to head confrontations.
And always leave room to be surprised by God!
What about you, people celebrating ordiversaries this month? What do you remember of your ordination? What is exciting about being in ministry right now? Let us celebrate you!
Teri Peterson is a minister in the Church of Scotland, enjoying living an hour up the west coast from Liz. She spends her free time reading, petting the kitties, and amassing an ever larger collection of rain gear. And, of course, plotting ordiversary parties!
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