If I had a quarter for every time I have been asked how I knew I was supposed to be a pastor, I would be rich.
Throughout my years at Davidson College and summers working at church camp, I was encouraged to think about attending seminary because I had gifts that the church could use in full-time Christian service. I resisted. By April of my senior year, I gave in to the inner and outer voices nudging me toward seminary. Throughout my first year at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, I enjoyed the study but lacked the conviction that God was indeed calling me to serve as a pastor.
My first summer internship was in a three-church field in the mountains of Virginia where the members were not happy about having a female intern for the summer. And frankly, I was not sure I wanted to be there either. I remember the first time I preached the 17 mile three-church circuit. I had finished my first sermon at the Sinking Springs Church and was greeting people at the door after worship. A woman came through the line and said to me with this astonished look on her face, "Wow, a woman really can preach." So it began. Mutual admiration grew between a 23-year-old female seminarian and three congregations of tough, untrusting, blunt mountain folk. By the end of the summer, we had grown to love each other and I had found my calling to be a pastor. I say they loved me into the ministry.
That summer confirmed for me that God was indeed calling me to ministry in His Church. My inner sense of call was confirmed by the outward calling of God's people to serve. From then on, I never looked back—God had called, and all I could do was answer.
About the Contributor
Joanne is the Associate Pastor of Congregational Care and Deacons at FPC. She joined staff in July of 2013. FPC is the fourth congregation she has served as an installed pastor.