For almost a year I’ve been actively pondering and eventually seeking ordination with Calvary Baptist Church, D.C. This journey has been one filled with countless questioning of what it means, the life which brought me to this point, great joy of realizing I get to take steps to affirm my gifts of church leadership, and moments of preparing for the possibility of becoming a pastor. It’s been a year of unsettled certainty and I would not change the slightest thing.
This past Saturday morning I made my way from Takoma Park to Chinatown in D.C. The drive was nice and smooth until the runners happened! The St. Patrick’s Day marathon runners who blocked my way of getting from north of the city into the city. For a person who hates running to begin with really hated running as I was continually waved on to the next closed street. After some great traffic app and guidance from one of my ordination council members I parked in Columbia Heights and took the metro in. Arriving 30 minutes late I walked into the library to see two other council members were also being blocked by the running masses. We waited a few minutes for the others to show which allowed me some time to get my grip on things.
As my council met a few minutes without me I sat and wondered what questions I would be asked. Amy, the Senior Pastor, brought me back into the library and then the real fun began. . . Questions of my frustration with the institutional church, my return to Baptist life, how I understand Christ being fully human fully divine and how humanity is made in the image of God, what atonement is and how it works within the biblical narrative, how does my social work training and seminary training work together, why there is sin and suffering in the world, . . . and so it went for about an hour and a half.
I was then asked to hang out in the office while my council deliberated. I sat there with a friend at church as the knots in my stomach turned and nerves reverberated throughout my whole body. I can easily say this was one of the most nerve wracking moments in my life. As Pastor Edgar asked me to rejoin them I began aching for an e-mailed response where I could read their words and decision in private! I paused at least four times as I walked the two yards from the office to the library, with each pause I tried to turn back but I couldn’t so I shook off the nerves and entered the library.
I took my seat again and took deep breathes that could have filled five sets of lungs. I looked into each council member’s faces as they spoke words of confirmation, affirmation, encouragement, and hope to and for me. Sweet salty tears filled my eyes as each person spoke and half way through the council members my eyes had filled to their brim and with a blink the tears made their way down my face. I sat there as each member spoke and I tried to allow their words sink in. When it came to the last member I was informed that this group of people who I had grown to love deeply, who had seen me live into my skill sets, who heard my words and seen my life for over a year and had come to believe I was ready and prepared to be voted on by the church for ordination.
I wish I could describe to you what that moment was like as countless thoughts filled my head and my body was encompassed with a plethora of emotions. It was this strange moment of absolute clarity and total haze all at the same time. They asked me to offer a prayer but before I did I expressed my thanks, what this meant to me, and how they were part of having women in ministry be a reality.
This was a weekend filled with remarkable memories, emotions I can’t put words to, and a transformational affirmation.
So here is to the next phase in the journey to ordination and all it holds.