Ordination Anniversary!

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.

12 thoughts on “Ordination Anniversary!

  1. Sue, Those of us who have known your ministry are grateful for all those things that brought you to us and made you stay. Your years at EWCC are setting records. In some ways, in no matter what church, Liz and I still regard you as our “other Pastor.” Blessings, Suzanne Thompson

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marianne

    Congratulations Sue!
    I can’t believe it’s been 35 years! You have done such a wonderful job there – you found your true calling and we are all so impressed by how much you have accomplished – well done!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mark

    I am so grateful that we found you. Happy that both of our families were raised in this community of faith. We have traveled a long road and it has been a wonderful journey,
    Praise be to God.
    Thank you! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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