Happy May Ordiversaries!! This month our party is kicking off with a 15-year celebration: the Rev. Julie Higbee, who is an Associate Pastor in Fernandina Beach, FL. She and her husband live 15 minutes from the beach with their two cats. She was ordained on May 14, 2006 which happened to be Mother’s day that year.
Tell us a little bit about your journey into ministry.
My grandmother always said I would write a book one day – little did she know that I’ve probably written several with all the writing I have done through the years as a pastor. She and my grandfather taught me what it was to love and serve the church. When I was in college, I was part of Presbyterian Campus Ministry at the University of South Carolina (now UKirk), and two of my campus ministers saw the gifts and skills I had for ministry before I was able to name it. I went to seminary, and discovered my call to parish ministry during my summer internship at a church in Washington State. I remember wishing I could just stay and do the work I loved rather than returning to the classroom. My supervisor said to me “seminary isn’t the final call for you. Some people are called to seminary, some are called through seminary to serve the church.” Those words carried me through two more hard years of education. I have served churches in 4 states ranging in size from 78 to 850, as an Associate, Solo Pastor, and Transitional Pastor.
What’s something you remember from your ordination?
When I was ordained, I remember the nervousness of the day – I was being ordained in the first church I served, so we were all still getting to know one another. I had kind friends come and support me, and my parents, aunt, and grandmother were there. I remember the weight of all the hands on my shoulders, and the words of a colleague reminding me that these hands were the ones to support me, not to hold me down. It was a really emotional day!
As one who got married recently, tell us a bit about your experience as a single – dating – engaged minister!
I was married for the first time in September, and so was single most of my career. The best advice I was given was not to bring anyone I was dating to church until it was serious, and that was spot on! The first Sunday my now-husband came to church was overwhelming for both of us. Apparently I would not even look at his side of the sanctuary while I preached! Planning a wedding in the midst of a pandemic in a church coming out of some major upheaval was a challenge, but it was also something good and fun we could focus on as a community. I’m thankful for the ways my congregation loved and cared for us, and how they have welcomed my husband however he chooses to be involved.
What are your favourite aspects of ministry these days? What brings you life about this work?
Right now my favorite aspects of ministry are helping our congregation find ways to reconnect with one another. I’m also enjoying discerning where we are called to be in the future, and dream about how church might be different because of the last year.
What advice would you give those being ordained this month?
I have three pieces of advice for those of you being ordained this month. First – take a moment at your service and look at everyone who is there. Soak in those who came to support and love you. The day will feel like a blur, but those faces will remain in your memory. Second, know that the Church to which you are ordained today is not the Church you will serve in 5, 10, 15 years. The world is constantly changing, and so is our work. Seminary can’t prepare us for everything, and that’s ok. Third – find your people outside of church you can go to no matter what. This group has been a huge place of support for me through the years, as have others. Know who you can call when you’ve had a bad day or when you need to celebrate something. We don’t do this work alone!
Thanks Julie! Keep up the good work.
How about you, friends? What are your favourite aspects of ministry these days? What is bringing you life?
Teri Peterson is a Church of Scotland minister in the west of Scotland, a member of the Board of RevGalBlogPals, and a now-occasional blogger at Clever Title Here. She is a 7 on the Enneagram and loves a good party, and now that those are all online, she loves ordiversaries even more!
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