Before I went to seminary, I stumbled onto some clergywomen’s blogs. I did not know any women clergy personally because I was from a more conservative tradition. I would read their stories and wish I could serve in a congregation, too. I lived vicariously through their sermons and their discussions. It was inspiring! The possibilities opened up before me… and I followed their example and the Spirit’s leading, and ended up in seminary.
Fast forward 13 years later, I celebrated my tenth “ordiversary” (anniversary of my ordination) in July of 2018. I remembered that as I repeated my ordination vows, I knew that I had clergy sisters with me in Spirit (and a few actually present!) It was empowering, for my ordination was in a church that was not overly enthusiastic about ordaining women. My sister clergy affirmed that I was not a second-class pastor, but equally Called and Spirit-gifted for ministry. Their encouragement, along with my family’s and friends’, gave me the confidence to step into new roles.
Ministry is challenging in that many clergy are working with little to no support. With RevGals, we have “galship” that shares in new Calls, difficult pastoral moments, and parenting from the pulpit. When my sermon writing stalls, there is shared inspiration in the weekly “Preacher Party.” More than once I’ve been moved to tears of laughter or shared pain by posts on the blog or on Facebook.
My primary pastoral work as a hospice chaplain is in the invisible world of private pain and suffering. It’s not work that I can talk about publicly because of privacy laws. My “congregation” is spread across the county. It feels isolating and sometimes not “real” ministry, since I’m not preaching or leading church programs on a regular basis or in the public eye. But the “strands” of my sister clergy, and the bond of the Holy Spirit weave us together.
Because of RevGals, I have some new real-time friends. It’s hard to find space in our calendars, but the times we do share are full of laughter and honest reflection. We attended the Engle Preaching Institute at Princeton and the Festival of Homiletics together. We have locked arms during protest marches in DC. We mourned a miscarriage, and celebrated engagements and new grandbabies. We’ve listened and prayed and loved one another. We are stronger together.
Without question, the greatest area where the RevGals organization has stretched me is through their continuing education. The book studies on “Trouble I’ve Seen” and “Waking Up White” offered challenging perspectives on my own blind spots. I added books to my reading list that I wouldn’t have picked up on my own. I learned from my assumptions and owned my white privilege. I was learning by their example how to be an advocate for the marginalized and disenfranchised. The necessary, hard work of weaving my life in support of others continued.
I am grateful for the strength and inspiration I find in the RevGals. The small financial investment I make helps sustain the organization. And it gives me food for my daily work. Together, we bring the Good News to a world that needs to know God’s love, peace and hope. To the extent that you are able, I encourage you to support the work of RevGalBlogPals. We need one another!
Rev. Deborah Vaughn is a hospice chaplain endorsed by the Alliance of Baptists, and Assistant Minister at Twinbrook Baptist Church in Rockville, MD. She blogs at An Unfinished Symphony and was a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit.