Welcome to November! The ordiversary party is being kicked off by RevGals board member Jemma Allen. The board got to meet in person last week, and spending time with Jemma on the beach and in the meeting room was a delight…I hope you enjoy getting to know her virtually, and then sharing your own November Ordiversary stories and celebrations!
I was baptised by immersion as a 14 year old in a fairly traditional Anglican church (it caused a bit of a stir because ‘decently and in order’ had primarily meant sprinkling babies). As I emerged from the water wearing my choir robe with sinkers sewn into the hem (for modesty’s sake) I had a profound sense of knowing that one day I would stand behind the altar and preside at the Eucharist. I dismissed it pretty quickly – I thought I was going to be a librarian or an accountant.
At nineteen I preached at a friend’s installation as the Diocesan Youth Worker. I was moving out of the Diocese the next day to go to University (to study Women’s and Gender Studies), so I preached boldly and by implication that Bishops ought to spend more time considering themselves tax collectors and sinners! When the Archbishop called me into the office after the service I was expecting a reprimand – instead he asked me whether I was open to exploring my vocation to ordination!
I was ordained deacon in December 1998, and then at age 25 ordained priest in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia at the Cathedral of St Peter, in Hamilton, New Zealand on the 27th of November, 1999. Three of us were ordained priest that day and we arranged ourselves so that the second youngest was ordained first – he got to be the youngest priest in the country for a brief moment. Then I was ordained – I was the youngest priest in the country for several years. Then an older woman was ordained – she got to be the newest priest in the country! In some ways it was completely trivial, but it was also a way of expressing the friendship that had grown in our formation.
Your ministry has been expressed in a variety of contexts and forms—tell us a bit about your experiences of moving between these places and types of calling and what has been consistent for you as a priest in the midst of all those changes over the years?
I have been a parish-based priest with responsibility for ministry with children and their families twice, the Ecumenical Chaplain at the University of Waikato, the Co-Pastor of the Congregation of the Good Shepherd in Beijing, China and currently my ministry is expressed as a counsellor and spiritual director in Auckland, New Zealand and working on my PhD in counselling.
In all of those roles at the heart of my ministry is presence and hospitality. Showing up and paying attention matters. And when we can embody hospitality in the fullest sense – welcoming all of a person – the parts of a person that are ‘presentable’ and those parts that are hurting or fearful or wounded or angry, then I think we are doing holy work.
How do you keep yourself healthy (mentally/physically/emotionally/spiritually) in ministry?
Staying healthy for me involves eating plants, knitting shawls, practicing yoga and loving (and walking) dogs. I am also part of a denomination that requires clergy to go to spiritual direction and supervision (the pastoral/clinical kind with a trained supervisor, outside of your ministry setting, to be seen monthly usually). Those life-long practices are also essential to the sustainability of ministry for me. I also believe in the value of personal counselling/therapy when needed and am grateful for my own experiences of therapy that have enlarged my capacity for mental and emotional health.
What advice would you give to those being ordained now?
We can be well-trained, well-formed, well-prepared, but there is always a gap between that state and what we will need to live the life of ministry. I am grateful for that gap – it helps us lean into the grace of ordination. If we could do it, be it already what need would we have for grace? My best advice is to trust the grace of ordination which, after all, is the grace of our loving and gracious God.
How about you? Were you ordained in November? Share your ordination stories, your advice to new ordinands, and how you keep healthy in ministry in the comments!
Teri Peterson is a minister in the Church of Scotland. She just returned from the board meeting in sunny Southern California and is readjusting to the scottish weather, and the cat is helping by refusing to leave her lap. 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.
RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back to the specific post. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com