Happy October Ordiversaries!! This is my own ordiversary month, so I hope you all are celebrating in extra Enneagram-7 style. This month’s party is being kicked off by the ever-delightful Pat Raube, who is the pastor of Union Presbyterian in Endicott, NY. She has a pretty awesome story, in addition to being fabulous herself, so read on to join the party!
Tell us a bit about your journey into ministry. I sort of backed into ministry. After college I worked for a few years in the mental health department of an HMO, and eventually decided to apply to a certificate program to become a Jungian psychotherapist. The application required 400 hours of analysis (of which I hadn’t had a single one; I’d just read Jung in college and liked him), and also a Master’s degree in a related field. So, naturally I started on the Master’s: an MA in Pastoral Care and Counseling at Boston College. After a few months in the program I realized it was ministry that was my calling, but as a Roman Catholic woman, my options were limited to various kinds of chaplaincy. In my second year of the program, en route to an interview for a Field Placement position, I had my road to Damascus moment. It involved an Amy Grant song (“Lead Me On”) and the fact that I was about to meet an ordained Protestant clergywoman for the first time in my life. From that moment to the date of my ordination, fourteen years passed. It was a curvy and meandering path, but it was my path.
What’s something you remember from your ordination? My ordination (October 26, 2003) was such a complicated day. My marriage was falling apart: my ex told me later that, as one of the elders surrounding me and laying hands on me, he whispered a prayer, “Take care of her,” after which he knew he was leaving. And yet, at that same service, my friend Janet preached on the Magnificat from Luke’s gospel, and the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth that was the context for Mary’s prophetic proclamation. That sermon has remained as a guidepost for me: I do ministry in the context of a strong network of colleagues, mostly women, who lift me up and whose wisdom and encouragement are my constant companions.
What advice would you give to people being ordained this month? Don’t go it alone. Ministry is hard and it is beautiful, and you don’t have to know absolutely everything heading out of the gate. In fact, know that you won’t know everything, and you don’t have to. Develop an “A-Team” consisting of the people you trust to ask your deepest and also most ridiculous questions (“How do I deal with this difficult congregant/ staff member/ colleague?” “Does anyone know how to clean gunk out of a marble baptismal font?”). This has been a powerful and delight-filled spiritual practice for me. I highly recommend it.
Thanks, Pat, for sharing your story to kick off the party! And for your stellar and important advice—I hope we are all listening, whether we’re new at this or not. How about you? Are you celebrating an ordiversary? Tell us about your ordination memories, and your ministry advice, in the comments! Pull up a chair, grab some snacks, and let’s get this party started!
Rev. Teri Peterson is a minister in the Church of Scotland, and October is the month she celebrates many things, including an ordiversary and a birthday. She is co-author of Who’s Got Time: Spirituality for a busy generation (Chalice Press 2013), a board member of RevGalBlogPals, and “mum” to Andrew, the cat who rules the manse.
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