Ordination On The Wednesday Of My Career
A Good News “Recall” Story
God was leading me in a pastoral direction, and as a young woman, I began to recognize that call.
Raised in a very traditional congregation, with little to no involvement from women, I was limited in the roles in which I could be involved. I tried to fulfill the leadership roles that came to me, such as youth group president, and my congregation was quite affirming. However, women were not in leadership in my congregation, and were not allowed to even vote. Because of this, I had never really considered pastoral ministry.
Two points converged for me one afternoon when a pastoral counsellor asked me directly if I thought I was called to ministry. My feelings of personal call, and the recognition from someone else of the gifts that God had given me, came together. We were able to discern that there was indeed a calling on my life. It was affirmed from many directions – encouragement for informal leadership in my home church, a congregation asking me to stay after my summer internship, and people all along the way.
Employed now as a chaplain, I am able to minister with a congregation more varied than any I have worked with before. I minister to people from many religious backgrounds and find that one of the most wonderful challenges that I face is meeting people’s spiritual needs where they are. If a Buddhist person needs support, I bring that support; if a non Christian needs support, I bring that too. My role is to help with the spiritual growth that they need and encourage them in ways that I think may be helpful. As Christians, we are about preaching the Good News. The Good News that I preach is through my actions - being warm and caring and showing the love of God through who I am.
I postponed ordination until last July for a variety of reasons. Typically ordination is at the start of ministry and is wonderful encouragement at the beginning of a career. However, ordination in mid-life was really affirming for me. It was an affirmation of what I had already been doing, and an encouragement for the years ahead. I felt very cared for and called again – a “recall” in the best sense of the word!
God calls all kinds of people. Knowing that call on your life keeps you going through the tough times. As a young woman, I would never have imagined that a woman could be a minister. Even if you haven’t seen your type of person in the pulpit, whether that be your accent, or your colour, or whatever it may be, God still may be calling you – or recalling you.
Bev Suderman-Gladwell is an MCEC pastor currently ministering at Parkwood Mennonite Home as Chaplain/Pastoral Care Coordinator. She was one of 12 pastors who were ordained this past year in MCEC.