March has come in like a lion in my part of the world, making me all the more ready for a party! There’s nothing quite like starting Lent by celebrating our sisters in ministry. This month’s ordiversary party is kicked off by RevGal Carolyn Herold, whose persistence in pursuing her call is a reminder that even in a long season in the shadowed valley, we keep moving forward, and God is still faithful.
So let’s get this party started!
There are several priests in my maternal family tree. God firmly knit this heritage into my DNA, and God’s call was persistent. However, my parent didn’t attend church. As a child I asked to attend Sunday school with a friend; as a teen I read the Gideon Bible distributed at school under my covers with a flashlight (I am not sure why I felt this needed to be a covert activity).
While attending university I chose to be confirmed and thus began my involvement in the Anglican Church of Canada. In 1986 I completed my Masters of Theological Studies at the Virginia Theological Seminary and also my first unit of CPE. In 1987, with the full support of my parish I applied to the Diocese of Calgary for postulancy in preparation for ordination. Although women were being ordained in Canada at that time, the Diocese of Calgary, a conservative bastion, was not ordaining women. I was told by the male diocesan committee to “go home and become a housewife.”
It was a long and often arduous journey to my ordination as Deacon in 2014, and ordination as Priest in 2015. I was ordained as priest in the Anglican Church on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 2015. The life and faith of Mary are an inspiration to me, so to be ordained on this feast was hugely significant and brought me great joy. A colleague who knew my story preached on Mary and how “nothing is impossible for God”. She knew how impossible ordination had once seemed for me. Following the service, I was told by several people that for much of the time I had appeared to be floating five inches off the ground!
My ministry is largely one of pastoral care. I am continually amazed at the privilege of hearing people’s deepest thoughts, concerns and hopes. I am honoured to spend time with people who through duress or hardship have shed their masks and pretenses.
What is a practice (spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional, whatever!) that is important to you?
Spending time with God’s creation is a prerequisite for my spiritual and emotional health. Walking, gardening, skiing, or simply listening to the quiet of being alone in the mountains brings me to the oneness that is God.
In the past couple of years, I was confined to bed for significant periods of time. During those times I developed a friendship with the trees I could see from my window and became a birdwatcher. Doses of natural beauty are a daily requirement for me.
What advice would you give to people being ordained this month?
Rejoice in the knowledge that God has chosen you and is equipping you for ministry. She will grant you strength, love, the ability to listen, words, and wisdom if you but ask. And ask you must, if your ministry is to bear fruit. Pray often, before every meeting and every worship service, and give thanks for God’s presence with you.
Thanks Carolyn, for sharing your journey and inspiration with us—happy ordiversary!
How about you, friends? What practices sustain you? Let us celebrate your ministry too!
Teri Peterson is a minister in the Church of Scotland. She lives along the beautiful Firth of Clyde, and her most consistent practice at the moment is taking pictures of the view from her window. She blogs occasionally at Clever Title Here, is co-author of Who’s Got Time: spirituality for a busy generationWho’s Got Time: spirituality for a busy generation, a board member of RevGalBlogPals, and a contributor to There’s A Woman in the Pulpit.
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