Happy Ordiversary, July-Ordained friends! This month we have the Rev. Jo Anne Taylor kicking off the party!
1. Tell us a bit about your journey into ministry.
My first calling was to be a music teacher and singer. I did that for 25 years and loved it. One Sunday, my pastor asked me to step in for the scheduled liturgist, who had been taken ill. After worship, Adele Cole pulled me aside and said, “You should go to seminary. You read Scripture with authority, and God could use you in ministry.” I was pretty sure she was wrong, and I told her so. Adele had been one of the first women ordained to ministry in the Evangelical Covenant Church. At her funeral two years later, another woman told how Adele had encouraged her, and how she had just been accepted into a seminary program. I thought, “She’s telling my story, but I’m not living it.” My husband fully supported my call, but warned me I’d need to give up something – I couldn’t keep piling more on my plate. When I could honestly tell God, “If it’s your will I never sing another note or teach another lesson, I’m okay with that,” doors started opening. I finished the MDiv, and Adele Cole’s son-in-law chaired the committee for my ordination interview.
2. What’s something you remember about your ordination?
I was ordained at the Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church on June 28, 2014, almost a year after I had accepted an appointment to pastor a United Methodist congregation. My Methodist district superintendent traveled from Minnesota to Chicago to attend my ordination in the Covenant Church! My mom, that Southern Baptist preacher’s wife, came from Oklahoma to see her daughter be ordained into ministry, and I treasure the picture of her and my older sister celebrating with me. But the most significant thing I remember was the ordination sermon, preached by Rev. Robert Owens: Know your purpose, bathe it in prayer, preach the Word, in the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s now my personal mission statement.
3. What is it like to serve in a denomination different than your own tradition?
I was raised Southern Baptist, grew in faith in the PC(USA), was called to ministry through the ECC, attended a Baptist General Conference (now Converge) seminary, and serve in the United Methodist Church. I’m an ecumenical mutt, so it’s hard to pin down my “tradition.” The UMC is my first experience of episcopal polity, however, and I do appreciate the clarity of the appointment process vs. a call process. The early Pietists who formed the Covenant Church were influenced by Moravians, as was John Wesley, so both theological streams emphasize grace and personal piety/holiness. Many of my parishioners didn’t “grow up Methodist,” so it’s been fun discovering with them what makes Wesleyan theology distinctive.
4. Tell us more about being a musician in ministry.
i like to work cooperatively with the music director to plan worship themes, but I try to honor the same boundaries I valued when I served in that position. I focus on the Word, and the musicians focus on the music. Together we give glory to God.
5. What advice would you give to those being ordained this month?
Know your purpose, bathe it in prayer, preach the Word, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
How about you, other July-ordained friends? Tell us about your ordinations and let us celebrate with you!
Teri Peterson is a minister in the Church of Scotland, where she ministers to a fantastic congregation in the most beautiful place, and lives in perhaps the nation’s best manse with the best view and a 15 year old cat who is the actual pickiest eater in the universe. She is the liturgy writer for the BibleWorm podcast, blogs (very) occasionally at CleverTitleHere, co-authored the book Who’s Got Time: Spirituality for a Busy Generation, and serves on the RevGalBlogPals board.
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