Scot McKnight had quite the discussion going today about women pastors, and some of the obstacles they face within denominations that support the ordination of women. As I read some of the comments, I was struck by God’s grace to me in my own process of being called, as a woman, to pastoral ministry. It is good for me to remember the different people who, both directly and indirectly, were used by God in the formation of my own sense of calling as fully gifted to preach and lead.

There were Priscilla Pope-Levison and Jodi Mullen Fondell who served as chaplains at North Park during my years as a student there and who gave me some of my first speaking opportunities.

There was Brenda Salter McNeil who came and spoke in chapel when I was a freshman and gave me my first preaching role model.

There was David Nystrom, an extraordinarily gifted minister and leader who was my most significant mentor during my years in Chicago.

There were Mary Miller and Jay Phelan who took my writing seriously and gave me platforms to share it.

There were David Horner and Carl Balsam who, though we did not always see eye to eye, treated me with respect and gave me a place at the table.

There was Glenn Palmberg who made sure that I knew how valuable I was to my denomination.

There was Henry Greenidge, the kind of pastor I dream of being, who invited me onto his staff and into his pulpit.

There was Pastor Mike who gave me opportunities to teach and lead in the church that raised me.

And there were my parents who “opened all the windows” and believed that I could do anything.

May it be that I too would have eyes to see how I might be used to shape the hearts and dreams of those coming after me.


  1. Erika,

    I was touched by this post today. I began following Scot McKnight’s post in reference to the NY Times article, and have read almost every response. His site is what brought me here. I am 39 years old, married for over 20 years, a mother of 2 wonderful daughters, one a sophomore in college and the other a senior in high school. I am an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene, and have been involved in ministry for over 18 years, 8 as a full time youth pastor. Opposition to a woman in mininstry has been fierce at times; a man walked out as I walked up to the platform to preach one night…so the story goes. I was presiding over a funeral, and was berated by a funeral director before the service, and asked out by the same man after. But just this Sunday, a man in our church shared with me a story, that inspired me to keep on serving. He was severely injured in a 2 story fall, and I went to visit him in the hospital. Although I was there several times, he didn’t remember much…but what he did remember was, as he was laying in his bed, he could see out into the hallway; he saw me and our eyes connected. He said that he felt such a peace come over him, and knew God was with him. He said that it wasnt’ me, or the fact that “I” came to see him, but who I represented. His words to me were, “Don’t ever not do or not go where God asks you, he is using you to bring hope to others.” No opposition here! There are so many topics that I could touch on as a woman in ministry…from good ol’ boys clubs to managing ministry and keeping balance in marriage and family, but everyone has a story, don’t they? It’s just wonderful to read someone else’s uplifting story! To be honest, it’s the fairy tale to me, and I am grateful that there are awesome people out there to inspire women, I just haven’t been as blessed in that area. I would love to pass your encouraging story on to one of my former students, an amazing young woman, pursuing her call to ministry in a Nazarene university.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts…keep the encouraging words coming…


    “Keep on charging the enemy so long as there is life.” (One of my favorite quotes)

  2. Ronda,
    Thank you for your kind words and for sharing a bit of your own journey. I love your parishoner’s words: “Don’t ever not do or not go where God asks you.” That is really what it is all about, isn’t it–woman or man, young or old, rich or poor, confident or afraid…just name the obstacle!
    May God bless your heart of service,

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