Day 1 as Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) clergywoman

Yesterday, November 13, the Commission on Ministry accepted me as a full-fledged clergywoman in this denomination that has been my church home for ten years. My road (well, “road” is a bit of an exaggeration) was more like an unchartered path, often in the wilderness, often in exile, leading me into and then from communities of faith that were not able to support me in my personal journey seeking to live out the fullness of my call and find the power of my own voice.

Born into the Episcopal faith, I was drawn to the Catholic faith as a freshman in high school. This led me to an MA in scripture and theology, the first woman to graduate from Mt. Angel Seminary, in 1979. I served faithfully for a quarter century, including developing a number of parish programs in the wake of Vatican II, including writing a book, The Pastoral Associate and Lay Pastor, and being a staff writer for “Good News Homily News Service,” where I had to sit in the front row listening to a male priest read the words I had written for his Sunday homily.

Then followed a short stint with the Lutherans until I came out and refused to stay in the closet for the comfort of the people whom I was supposed to serve.

Then followed years in the spiritual wilderness, reconfiguring my family of three children and ex-husband, no longer connected to a church that had both been my home and profession.

This was followed by a stint with Unity, where I was ordained in 2006, but in 2005 I met and fell in love with my spouse, Sheryl, who was on her way to seminary in Berkeley, California, to pursue ordination as a minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I also fell in love with the Disciples, in particular with their radical welcome, open table, and call to ecumenism.

It is no accident, I believe, that the gospel of today (Luke 18:1-8) is that of the widow who kept bringing her case against an intransigent judge, who kept turning down her demand for justice. But love, and tenacity, had the will to win. At last, he gave in and granted her request: “…because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.”

It has taken me 57 years since my initial call into ministry. Like the widow, I kept trying – again and again – to plead the cause of women, of LGBT folk, of others marginalized — by the color of their skin, the place of their origin, the name of their faith– put in prisons that smashed their hopes and saw them as less as they were called to be.

I hope that I can serve out the rest of my days with the Disciples as my colleagues and friends, where I will continue to see where the path of my own call will lead me. But remember, the judge ended his resistance by declaring he would grant her request so that she would not “come and strike” him.

So, let’s keep on walking, supporting one another to discover the unique path that is the call of each one of us in all of our uniqueness, our flaws, our gifts, and let’s see where we can go – together


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