This morning I texted someone for the first time and identified myself as “Pastor Jenn.”
Which was weird.
Technically I’ve been a licensed (not yet ordained) pastor for about three years, and I’ve been ministering in various capacities for a lot longer than that, including overseeing and spiritually caring for groups of people, which is technically what a “pastor” (“shepherd”) does, but I just didn’t think I was going to ever pastor a traditional church. I certainly wasn’t planning to. Or trying to.
True, I’ve been providing “pulpit supply” (substitute preaching) on occasion, for about three years now, too. The first time I was asked to preach at Central Baptist was two years ago. One of my former colleagues at the living history museum invited me. It was fun, and Paul and I really liked the people there. Then Paul said, “Maybe you can be the pastor there someday.”
But I didn’t get invited back the following summer and I didn’t think anything more of it until we bought my parents’ house this spring, instead of moving to another state as we imagined we would. Paul said, “Hey maybe, since we’re staying here, you can be the pastor of that church.” That seemed unlikely, since I had only ever preached there once, two years before. Then “that church” invited me back to preach.
Everybody was really excited about that sermon, and after the service my living history museum friend asked me if I didn’t want to apply to be their pastor. To be honest, I hadn’t even been aware that their pastor up to this point was an interim and they had been searching for someone for quite some time. Anyway, my filling the role still seemed unlikely, since I’m not ordained and I don’t actually belong to any denomination, nor do I plan to join one (see previous posts about streams) even though it’s still plausible for me to describe myself as a Baptist if put to it.
So I applied, naturally. I preached a few more times. About six weeks after my application, I was invited to interview. It was fun. (I’m pretty sure I’ve never said that about an interview before.) There was a lot of laughter and also talk about prayer and God’s direction. And also actual prayer. Then later there was a meeting about the contract. Then on December 9th, I preached one more time and the congregation voted to call me as their pastor. I start at the beginning of the year.
I am excited to join this congregation. This whole process has had a very surprising, Impossible Camel, God-flavor to it, and so even though most of the time I think to myself, “I’m a what?” and “I’m quite sure God could have found someone better,” a little bit of the time I remember that other people (Moses or Mary, for two) have said similar things and it really wasn’t about them after all, except their openness to let God work through them. I hope that is and remains a quality of mine, too, and of Paul’s, and of the whole congregation’s. I can’t wait to what impossibly glorious stuff God does, when we let Him.
Note: The Pilgrimage is continuing, by God’s grace, too. Don’t you worry.