Today is the 25th anniversary of my ordination. I was ordained at the First Baptist Church of Berkeley, California. My family also gave us a big party that day to celebrate and to say good-bye. Two days later, we left to move to Gardner, Massachusetts, where I became the pastor of the First Baptist Church there.
So I’ve been reflecting on my ministry and thinking about the things to celebrate. Here are ten:
- My parents and their life-long commitment to Christ and the church and the way they passed that on to me.
- My pastor in high school, Wendell Price, who began considering the New Testament and women in ministry in a context where women could not even lead worship. By his work, he helped me to begin to think about my own calling.
- My husband, Karl, and his unflinching support for my ministry, to the point of moving 3,000 miles (and into the snow) and, later, supporting my launch into entrepreneurial ministry.
- The people of the First Baptist Church of Gardner, who took a chance bringing a young pastor from the unknown land of California (and Berkeley, no less).
- The wonderful colleagues and friends in ministry I have had over the years, across denominations.
- Rabbi Edwin Friedman, who taught me a way to be in ministry without wearing out or burning out.
- The hundreds of clergy and lay people I have coached, consulted with and spoken to in the second phase of my ministry, to the wider church. Their commitment humbles me.
- The resilience of churches and the larger church in the face of many changes and challenges.
- The ongoing relevance of the Bible to life and to ministry. While I no longer preach every Sunday, I do read it daily and continue to find strength and resources.
- God’s endless love and care for me, and for all of us.