Happy Ordiversary to our November-ordained RevGals! This month we have the Reverend Martha Daniels kicking off our party! Martha serves in the MCC, has served in two countries and very different contexts, and has great advice for all of us!
*Tell us about your journey into ministry.
I was/am a born and bred United Methodist. I had always been active in the church–choir, bell choir, youth group, church librarian, worship committee, fellowship committee, education committee, mission statement task force, etc. Unfortunately, when I came out as a bisexual woman during my ordination process, that ended my journey into the United Methodist ministry. I transferred to the Metropolitan Community Church, where I have served for 14 years. I served an internship year in the Mid-Atlantic area, in churches in Baltimore, Washington, DC, and Columbia, MD. The first church I served as pastor was in Windsor, ON (Canada)–I served there for 11 years, and I now serve in Brookfield, IL, a suburb of Chicago.
*what is something you remember from your ordination?
I was ordained on November 7, 2004. It was “incomplete” in the sense that the service did not end, as is traditional, with Communion–I waited to celebrate Communion for the first time with the congregation in Windsor, which had already called me as their pastor. I also remember my three friends who were also interns–who took part in the service, of course–giving me, as a special gift, a DVD of “Shrek 2” as a memento of a road trip we had taken, on which I was the driver and one of us, who shall remain nameless, asked frequently, “Are we there yet?”and so received the nickname “Donkey,” after Will Smith’s character in that movie.
*what’s something you’ve had to learn to appreciate?
The gift of receiving. Allowing people to give to you is a gift to them. It took me a long time to learn this. My first call began not long before the holidays, and several people in the congregation gave me Christmas gifts. I was uncomfortable with this, since I couldn’t reciprocate, wondering if it was a violation of boundaries, etc. The same happened a few months later on my birthday. Finally someone said to me, “Receiving can be a gift, too.” I have learned that congregations want to show their appreciation to their pastor–sometimes because they recognize that the salary is not commensurate with your worth, sometimes because they feel you’ve gone above and beyond, sometimes just because. I don’t expect gifts–but when they are given, I am appreciative and thankful.
*say a little bit about your experience of RevGals?
I’m still not sure how I happened upon RevGals! Possibly someone happened upon me–I started a blog in 2004 or 2005–at any rate, that was in the days of the blog ring! I connected with RevGals geographically near me, including Beth R., then known as Dona Quixote, now one of my dearest friends. As RevGals expanded, it became a way for me to practice discipline (Friday Five, for one), a place to be sure at least a few people beyond my congregation would read my sermons and prayers, and a resource for ideas, suggestions, and feedback as I expanded my writing. When I had to walk the cancer journey (hashtag #Itsnothing), RevGals was there, too. And this has continued with our becoming a nonprofit, events Big and Medium, the publication of our book (I’m in it!), and the expansion on social media. Oh–and how can I forget our Feetos? My blog has definitely fallen down the list of my priorities–although I do want to pull it back up. With Facebook and Twitter handy to send out a quick message, I rarely take the time to write a full blog post. I think this is a mistake.
*what advice would you give people being ordained this month?
Be open to Spirit’s moving in your life and that of your congregation. There is always a new thing to do. The new thing I am beginning now is not something I would have expected to do when I came to this congregation two years ago–and certainly not when I began seminary twenty years ago (OK, now that is scary–was it really twenty years ago?!). In fact, I would have run from it twenty years ago, and now I am looking for ways to immerse myself in it more fully.
*Some very concrete advice for your first months with a congregation
Get to know people’s names–have them wear name-tags, have small group meetings over coffee, go to the Bible studies, memorize the directory, whatever it takes.
Furnish your office (or equivalent, we don’t all get offices, I know) with as many of the following as will fit: spare jacket/blazer, socks/hose, gold/silver earrings; sewing kit; black shoes; charger for devices; OTC painkiller and sinus meds of choice, cough drops, energy bars. Also good–children’s books for a range of ages, coloring books and pencils/crayons ditto; stuffies; extra tote bags; pamphlets for local resources (easier to get the information than having to run out to the hall to get the information).
For your car: Bible/prayer book (if appropriate for your tradition), spare stole, cough drops (all for those sudden calls to the hospital/care home)
Find a good dry cleaner and hair stylist–you will want to know you can trust them in case of emergencies or sudden need. It may sound frivolous, but when it’s Thursday and you have a wedding to officiate Saturday and your best suit still has mustard on it from the last wedding…you need a favor from your cleaner!
Drive around and get to know the town/village/city–even if you get lost (yes, turn off the GPS for a while–you can always turn it back on to get home). Getting lost and then finding your way home is how you learn a place.
Your local librarian can be your best friend–besides basic information about the town and, of course, books, there are DVDs, e-books, meeting space (sometimes meetings away from the church are a good idea), free music downloads, and other resources, both for you and for the church.
Thanks, Martha, for getting this party started! Happy ordiversary, November peeps! Now it’s your turn to join the party: what’s something you have had to learn to appreciate? What advice would you give the newly ordained? What do you remember from your ordiation
Teri Peterson is a Church of Scotland minister, though she was ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) on Reformation Sunday, 2006. October is the best month because it has her birthday and ordiversary, and the worst month because it’s the anniversary of her mom’s death, and somehow all of that mixes together into this thing called life, which is definitely worth celebrating! You can find Teri at her blog (sometimes), CleverTitleHere, and in her book, Who’s Got Time: Spirituality for a Busy Generation, and as a contributor to the RevGals book There’s A Woman in the Pulpit.
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