In some traditions, May begins what we might call “ordination season” as people graduate with their degrees and find themselves in their first calls. Which makes it all the more special to hear from someone who has gone ahead on this journey! This month is longtime RevGal Kelley’s 32nd ordiversary, and she has a story and some excellent advice to share, so let’s get this party started!
I first heard a call to ministry in the painted desert of Ghost Ranch Retreat Center in northern New Mexico when a member of my youth group asked a simple question, “Why don’t you go into ministry?” I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was spiritually nurtured and, eventually, ordained at First Presbyterian Church. Years of worship, mission, fellowship, and christian education found voice through youth ministry, choir, camp counselor, lifeguard, and camp director at Camp Loughridge, owned by First Presbyterian. A seed was planted and, all these years later, God is still guiding me through the voices and faithfulness of God’s people.
I was ordained on May 17, 1987 at First Presbyterian Church in Tulsa. I remember being surrounded by faithful people from every area of my life and call – my home church, seminary friends, presbytery colleagues, members of my first call in Long Beach, college friends, high school friends, and family. It felt like a blanket of love draped around my entire body! I also remember not knowing how to put my new clergy stole on (it had a string across it to keep the stole off of my neck) and in all my ordination pictures my stole is on wrong!
As you have served in a variety of types of ministry positions over the years, what are some things you have learned about transitions?
I served two different churches in my first six years of ministry (Long Beach, CA and Chicago, IL) as a single person. I met my Air Force husband when I took my call to serve First Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque. After we were married at First Presbyterian Albuquerque, we moved almost every two years as part of being a military family. So, I knew a lot about transitions in my ministry! I learned that there was a place for my gifts in ministry no matter where we lived or how often we moved. It wasn’t always easy to say goodbye to each of my congregations but the bonds were deep and the joy was full. Being an ordained minister as well as a military spouse and a new mother all in one, I was able to take interim ministry and part-time church positions during our time of moving every two years. I found wonderful opportunities for ministry during these transitional times.
What do you think are the best parts of ministry?
Hands down the best part of ministry for me is working daily with people! And especially in the context of a covenant community of faith. I also love worship leadership and spiritual formation.
What advice would you give to those being ordained this month?
After thirty-two years of ordained ministry, my advice would be to surround yourself with mentors and colleagues in ministry (such as RevGals) who can share the ups and downs of this calling. No matter where you are serving in ministry, small church or large church, find the people God has placed around you to be a support outside of your parishioners.
Thanks, Kelley! Happy Ordiversary, and thank you for sharing your gifts with us and with the whole church!
How about the rest of you May-ordained friends? What has been the best part of ministry for you? What advice would you give to those just starting out in this life? How can we celebrate with you? Happy ordiversary!
Teri Peterson is a minister in the Church of Scotland, serving on the west coast among fabulous people and fabulous scenery. She is co-author of Who’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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