Dear Friends and Family of St. David’s,
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
As a kid in Junior High School, there were quite a few people who seemed to think I would be a good pastor. Since my dad was a Lutheran pastor, I just figured that they thought I should follow my dad’s call. As I mentioned in the past, I had no desire to seek ordination. I was interested in being a Radio Announcer (DJ) or a chef. And yes, I still like to cook! I would just brush off the comments about being a pastor because I KNEW WHAT I WANTED TO DO WITH MY LIFE! But the conversations persisted through members of the congregation where my dad served, the Lutheran Church of Our Savior in North Huntingdon, PA or my neighbors, the Shivelys.
George and Katie were active Presbyterians. They treated me as if I was one of the family. We’d play games like Trouble or Yahtzee. Katie even taught me how to play Canasta! She always had something delicious that she had baked. So whenever, I showed up there would be a big piece of cake or some fresh baked cookies. And if she didn’t have anything made (which was rare), she’d get me a big bowl of ice cream. George was a tremendous gardener and he got me interested in having my own garden. I even grew vegetables I didn’t like and would eat them because I planted them!
We’d discuss everything from school, family, current t events and my hobbies. They were very comfortable talking about their faith and their pastor’s sermon from the previous Sunday. You’d think growing up in the church it would be the least favorite thing I’d want to talk about. They were such caring, compassionate people who lived out their faith I sat and listened intently. They were engaging and very observant. They came to my confirmation in ninth grade. I knew that was amazing because they rarely missed attending their own church! Little did I know, how the Spirit worked through them, my family, parishioners and even strangers were moving, motivating, guiding, pushing me towards the ordained ministry.
By the time I entered college at the ripe old age of 18, I was hooked! I knew God was leading me to become an ordained pastor in the Lutheran Church. And it happened, eight years later on June 11, 1983, I was ordained into the ministry of the Lutheran Church in America (predecessor to the ELCA).
I am one of three members of my home congregation to be called into the ordained ministry. Thirty-nine years later I look back and reflect on how so many members of Our Savior and my neighbors, the Shivelys shaped me, encouraged me, nurtured me to answer a call I initially rejected. In turn these individuals have impacted hundreds if not thousands through those of us who “heard” the call to shepherd God’s people. I am humbled and in awe of it all.
I share this story with you, dear friends and family at St. David’s so that you do not underestimate the power of your witness, prayers, encouragement and even “gentle persuasion” in helping those among our church family to discern a call to the Holy Orders. Every congregation is obligated to raise up among their own qualified, gifted individuals to hear/heed God’s call to ordained ministry.
I am thankful to God for the priest Stephanie Cote shared in her story who first encouraged her to consider the call to ordination. There will be several “steps” she will need to take in these next three years that will be both exciting and daunting.
Please keep Stephanie in prayer and surround her with God’s love as she discerns God’s call to becoming an ordained priest.
May God open our eyes and speak through us that others may come to lead us in Word and Sacrament ministry!
Have a great week.
Your Servant in Christ,