7:00 A.M. EST March 25, 2010 | MUSKOGEE, Okla. (UMNS)
When I told him that God had called me to full-time ministry and
that I was enrolling in seminary, my father replied, “If God has called
you and you know he has called you, then you’d better be found doing
what he’s called you to do.”
That is what I share with anyone who aspires to ministry.
My journey to ordained pastoral ministry began when I was about 8
years old. (It’s a long story.) From that experience, I knew I was
called to teach, and in every aspect of my life, there has been an
element of teaching, even when the Army employed me.
God called me to preach in my 20s; I tried to make it teach,
reach—anything but preach. God has a sense of humor, though. As soon as
I vocalized my objections, I started seeing women in pastoral ministry
everywhere. In my 30s, I accepted God’s call.
My immediate family was a little skeptical initially. Some relatives
and friends thought I should have my head examined for leaving my
career in the federal government.
Attending and graduating from seminary was a means to have my call
validated. I was ordained as an elder in 1996. I felt a seminary
education was necessary in order to withstand the resistance in the
Christian community toward women pastors. Most surprising is that there
is still resistance.
Healed of the Lord
In the years I have been in ministry, I have met people who were
very vocal about how they felt about women preachers. I made the choice
to obey God rather than people.
In the years I have been in ministry, I have met people who were very
vocal about how they felt about women preachers. I made the choice to
obey God rather than people.
Another challenge has been my health. In 1995, my kidneys failed. I
became extremely ill while I was the pastor at Paul’s Chapel in Hugo.
In a Paris, Texas, hospital, I awoke to hear myself saying, “The trying
of my faith works patience in me, but I will let patience have her
perfect work, that I may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing” (James
1:3-4). Over and over, I sang the first phrase of that Scripture.
I also remember hearing, “This is a temporary inconvenience.”
Those two memories and confessing the word of God have seen me
through peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis, lots of hospital visits,
catheter replacements, blood transfusions, two transplants and more.
But God has kept his promise to be with me.
I chose not to see myself as a sick person, and my confession was
and is positive. I am the healed of the Lord. Sickness is a temporary
I think the difference I have made as Christ’s disciple has been
within my congregations, through preaching and Bible study, encouraging
and seeing people grow spiritually. I have discipled congregations to
take God’s word and translate it into practical, day-to-day
Over eight weeks last year in the churches I serve, we focused on
biblical financial study. This helped participants develop personal
plans for evaluating their financial responsibilities, incremental
saving and getting out of debt.
The members of both churches I serve in Muskogee provide me with joy
and fulfillment. It is a blessing the way they work together and care
for one another, including the homebound. The congregations are
emphatic about contributing 100 percent to the apportionments and take
an active part in mission support and community activities. They have
encouraged me and taught me to play. Sometimes I forget to do that.
I rejoice that both churches have had numeric growth; I also rejoice
that they desire to grow spiritually as well.
*Brown serves Spencer and Honor Heights United Methodist churches.
News media contact: Barbara Dunlap-Berg, Nashville, Tenn., (615)
742-5489 or firstname.lastname@example.org.