Happy ordiversary, December friends! This month we have long time RevGal Amy Peden Haynie kicking off the party. Many of us remember Amy’s ordination, and some RevGals even travelled from around the country to attend and celebrate with her, after years of reading her blog that included “elastigirl” in the title. 😊 Let’s celebrate with Amy and all our December ordiversaries!
December 10, 2011 is the date I was ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas. That sentence has a couple of extraordinary statements hidden in it. During my six-year seminary experience, I had been released from another diocese that did not discern that I had a call to the priesthood. By my count, I was the seventh woman that diocese had turned away. The Diocese of Fort Worth was one of a very few that had not ordained women for the priesthood until after a big schism that still roils today.
My first position within the diocese was a combined parish/diocesan staff position. I was the associate rector at a program-size Episcopal Church, and the diocesan InreachCoordinator. We made up the Inreach Coordinator title. None of us could figure out what else to call the person tasked with making a plan to put the diocese back together. There were countless meetings over coffee or a meal, with people who had been severely wounded by decades of church politics. In a relatively recently formed diocesewhere every bishop had denounced and left the Episcopal church in one way or another, I likened it to the children of abusive divorce after abusive divorce learning to sit around the dinner table and have hard conversations while committing to stay in healthy relationships with each other. It was tough and rewarding, and after 3½ years, the goals I had been tasked to complete were done.
Since then, I have been a parish priest, sometimes solo, sometimes with a team of colleagues. Throughout all of it and from even back in my days of seminary, there has been a Thomas Merton prayer that has been taped to my workspace. Coincidentally, December 10 is also the day we celebrate and remember the life of Thomas Merton, an American Trappist monk and priest, on the Episcopal Church calendar. He is the author of this inspiration:
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
That’s excellent advice for those being ordained this month—or those of us just needing a bit of Advent reminder!
How about you, other December ordinands? What do you remember, and what advice would you give?
Teri Peterson is a minister in the Church of Scotland, a cat-mom, a book lover, and someone who *may* have just had ice cream for dinner, because it’s been one of those weeks. She occasionally blogs at CleverTitleHere.
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