Today I am filled with gratitude. 35 years ago today on January 17, 1988, I was ordained as a Christian minister by the United Church of Christ.
I am grateful that I was called into ministry. I was living in Germany at the time, miserable in an office job in a manufacturing company. Having discovered that I was not cut out for the business world (I never cared how many things we sold or paid attention to increasing productivity), I was searching for direction. What could I do that might make a difference in the world? How could I try to help people? How could I be part of something bigger than myself?
As I mulled over entering ministry, I posted an airmail letter to my parents (it was 1983, long before the internet). Fearing that a declaration about entering ministry might be too shocking, I described wrestling with ideas from teaching to nursing to ministry. Two weeks later, I received my mother’s reply, “You would be a wonderful minister.” I am grateful for her faith in me – and for being a role model in living out her own faith.
I quit my job, sold my VW Bug, and headed back to the States. Never mind that I had never met a woman minster or that the majority of Protestant denominations weren’t accepting women ministers, I knew what my direction had to be.
I am grateful to my mentor the Rev. Dr. Bruce Bunker for shepherding me through years of training with countless hours of conversation and guidance.
I am grateful to Lancaster Theological Seminary for providing an educational foundation filled with creativity and community as well as a wide array of hands-on experiences that helped prepare me for parish ministry.
I am grateful for my friends and classmates who accompanied my on the journey through Greek 101 (flashcards, anyone?), introduction to Church History (you too can learn 2000 years of history in 2 semesters!), counseling, sermon preparation (“we have a powerful story to tell – get up and share it!”) and much more.
I am grateful to the East Woodstock Congregational Church for calling me as their pastor in November 1987. Their faith and confidence in a young, untested seminarian was the confirmation necessary on the journey towards ordination.
I am grateful the First Congregational Church of Wallingford for hosting my ordination. I was baptized and confirmed in that church and attended Sunday School, Pilgrim Fellowship (thanks, Mike Jackson!), and Youth Choir there. They really raised me in the faith so it was a proper place to celebrate my entry into ministry.
I am grateful for God’s faithfulness through the ups and downs of a lifetime in ministry. During 35 years, I have confronted unbearable sadness, suffering, evil, and hardship. And I have experienced compassion, joy, fellowship, transformation, kindness, empathy, forgiveness, and new life. In the end, love wins. To quote Desmond Tutu, during my ministry I have discovered that “goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate, light is stronger than darkness, life is stronger than death.”
Today, January 17, 2023 I am so grateful.