Post Author: YCWI Members
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, November’s article for “Our Cloud of Witnesses” is dedicated to giving thanks for those who have inspired us on the journey. This month, we hear from the editors of Fidelia’s Sisters who express their gratitude for the women and men who have been an encouraging presence in their ministries.
I am grateful for the witness of Sarah Sentilles. Her memoir, Breaking Up with God, actually helped me rediscover and re-embrace my faith and calling at a time when I seriously considered walking (running) away from it all. I continue to be inspired by her raw, beautiful truth-telling.
–Amy Loving Austin
I’m grateful for the witness of Mark, who was the Associate Pastor of my childhood church during my teenage years. He was one of the first people who saw gifts for ministry in me, and gave me opportunities to cultivate those gifts. His ability to speak the truth in love—to compassionately invite me to do better—motivated me to live into my faith, and modeled for me how I could do the same as a pastor. Moreover, his vibrant, joyful, humble, unapologetic faith reminds me what Christian faith can look like.
-Emily M. Brown
I am thankful for Father Bill, who definitely belongs in my personal cloud of witnesses. He was the rector of my home church for over 30 years, and his example shaped so much of what I understand a priest to be. Sometimes, when I am saying certain prayers during worship, I can even hear his intonations in my voice. I know that his views on matters like the ordination of women and LGBT persons changed gradually over time, and I appreciate how he remained grounded in tradition while still having the ability to be stretched in new ways.
I’m grateful for Bishop Bob Morgan, a retired United Methodist bishop and one of my college professors who became my most important mentor and a good friend. I came to college as a music major, but “The Bish” was relentless in his insistence that I was called to ministry and his pursuit of resources for me to travel and study. He passed away recently, but I still hear him lecturing and preaching when I read the Gospels.
I’m grateful for the witness of my college New Testament professor, Buz Myers, who taught about the ordination of women in his class and championed the cause. He showed me quiet patience and loving support as I struggled to discern my vocation to ordained ministry. His ardent faith, combined with the way he used his voice as male clergy to uplift my vocation as a young woman in a tradition that did not ordain women, left an indelible mark on me.
One person of many that I am grateful for in my current cloud of witnesses is my office administrator, Julie. She is incredibly faithful, always praying, always wanting to do what is right, and when life is hard in the congregation, she reminds me of the mantra, “Just love ’em.” Her gentleness and graciousness reminds me that building and supporting relationships is really what ministry is all about.
I’m grateful for the witness of my high school biology teacher who led our youth summer mission trips. She was (and is) a wonderful example of faith and leadership. She saw potential in me when I didn’t see it in myself, and has always been willing to be both silly and vulnerable for the sake of the gospel. Without her encouragement, mentoring, and faithful prayers over the years, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
I’m a third generation pastor (my dad and my maternal grandfather are pastors, too). And while these men are an important part of my cloud, the support of my mom and grandmother are perhaps even more important. As pastor’s spouses who had also dedicated their lives to ministry, they were invaluable in reminding me to take care of myself. My Mom was one of the first people I talked to when I had to make the painful decision to leave a call I loved because it had become too overwhelming as my family grew. And my grandma, whenever I visited her, used to remind me, “Don’t work too hard. I think that church you work for is asking you to do too much.” Grandma died four years ago, but I still find little notes of encouragement that she sent me tucked into my Bible and other books.
I grew up in my grandparents’ home—all 526 square feet of it—built by hand by my grandfather, great uncle, and a few good-hearted neighbors. We lived in near-poverty, though I didn’t realize it at the time. Because money was tight, my grandfather kept an iron gaze on our family’s finances, but he never questioned the grocery bill. I often tagged along with my grandmother to go grocery shopping at the Red & White, a trip about which I was sworn to secrecy. For every item my grandmother placed in the cart for us, she selected an identical item for our town’s food bank. If we couldn’t afford two boxes of cereal, we couldn’t afford one. A trip to the grocery store was always followed by a subsequent stop at the food bank. My grandmother wasn’t a talker, and in keeping with her extremely introverted nature, she rarely discussed her faith. But I saw it embodied every Tuesday in the Red & White. Thanks be to God for a grandmother who gave out of a scarcity that she could only perceive as abundance.
Image by: Photo by Infrogmation
Used with permission