Called to Ministry
By Rev. Nancy Salisbury
I read a true story written by a man about his grandmother, who was one of the first woman ministers in this country. He wrote that when Emma was 14 years old, she visited the minister of her church to tell him that she had been called to the ministry.
"You must be mistaken, Emma," the minister told her, "God doesn't call women into the ministry." A day or two later her father went to the family minister. He told him that if Emma was called to the ministry, that's all there was to it. Besides, she could preach circles around any boy in the county.
They could not convince their denomination, so in 1902 she connected up with a denomination that would ordain her. It was called the Christian Churches, what would eventually become the United Church of Christ. She served churches for many years as one of the first woman ministers in our country.
What really impresses me about Emma, is that she had no role models to show her how to go about it. What made her think that she was called to be a minister, when there were no other woman ministers?
According to her grandson, Emma was not an assertive, socially confident person. She was very sincere in the pulpit, but afterward, at coffee hour, she was painfully shy. Why would someone take on such a challenge, when it had never been done that way?
Callings like Emma's don't come every day, but maybe they do come in small ways. Back last spring we all found out that I was sick. The church would have to carryon being the church without a minister. You all heard the news and were consequently called to do the ministry of the church in ways you had never done before.
People stepped up and did great. Michael Mills and Steve Arsenault led worship. Rose handled the office and Joan Preston took over responding to requests for my emergency fund. Carol West led Bible study and Bev Doughty did the children's messages. Lots of people pitched in, responding to the call to minister. Just because "we've never done it that way" didn't matter at all. Everyone rose to the challenge, a calling, to minister in new ways.
Let's see what God is calling us to now, in this new season as I rejoin you.
Rev. Nancy Salisbury has been the pastor of First Congregational Church of Gray since December, 2008. She welcomes your questions and concerns about spiritual life, and how you can become a part of our growing faith community. Please visit our Contact page for information on how to reach Pastor Nancy.