This month we’re kicking off the Ordiversary Party with some story and wisdom from one of our original founding RevGals, Julie Craig, who is both an ordained PCUSA pastor and a Registered Nurse! Who better to help us party in an appropriately distanced yet awesome way? And it’s her birthday yesterday and ordiversary tomorrow, so obviously today is the perfect day for a party!
There are so many stories of women coming to ministry midlife that mine hardly seems unusual any more. When I was thirty-five with two young children, a husband, a house, a job I loved with Planned Parenthood, and a wonderful church family, I felt the nudge to do something more. I carried this secret around at first telling no one, until I broke it gently to my husband while we were on the Rock Freeway headed to Iowa. To his credit, he kept the car on the road! We sold the house, quit our jobs, and moved to San Anselmo, CA the next August. It was 1998.
A memory from my ordination was, oddly enough, having so much family there. My parents and sister, my husband’s parents and their respective spouses. It was such a wonderful celebration. I was ordained in the Presbytery of Milwaukee, which had been my home presbytery during my whole journey, on June 6, 2004. I had begun five days earlier to serve a small rural congregation as a solo pastor. I had turned forty-one years old two days prior to my ordination. I was pastor for that congregation for five and a half years. In 2009 I left that call, spent the next several years doing pulpit supply, traveling the world, and healing from spiritual trauma.
By age fifty I again felt a call to do something more, and I enrolled in Nursing school, responding to a call I’d sensed many years earlier but had been unable due to family responsibilities to fulfill. In 2017 I became a Registered Nurse and am fulfilling my call these days serving as a psychiatric nurse working with children, adolescents, and adults coping with eating disorders, mood disorders, severe anxiety, personality disorders, and suicidal ideation. For me it has become (hopefully) my final vocation and best use of my gifts. Although, my husband likes to joke that I reinvent myself every fifteen years, so stay tuned to see what happens when I turn 65!
My advice to those of you who are blessed to be ordained this month is to listen, listen, listen. Listen to what your people say, and what they don’t say. Be curious. Be brave. And get a counselor, therapist, or spiritual director. Be open to the Spirit’s unfolding even if it doesn’t look like what you think it should. In two days (I am writing on June 2) I will turn 57, and I have had a life far more interesting than I ever could have designed or directed for myself!
Thanks Julie! LYMI.
How about you, friends? Were you ordained in June? Tell us something about how your ministry has unfolded and what advice you’d offer to newbies just starting out!
Rev. Teri Peterson is a minister in the Church of Scotland, living on the west coast with her cat and an amazing view. She serves on the Board of RevGalBlogPals, and she loves a good party. #enneagram7
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.