Ask the Anarchist Reverend is a weekly feature here on the site. If you have a question you’d like to ask, you can send me an email (anarchistreverend at gmail), find me on twitter, or submit your question using formspring.
How/Why did you choose Christian ministry over your other interests and passions (community organizing, writing, performing, etc)?
This sounds rather hokey, but I don’t feel like I chose Christian ministry, I feel like it chose me.
And at the same time this “calling” has been a lifetime journey. I first had a sense that I was meant to be working in the church when I was in junior high. The problem was that at the time I was in a church where women weren’t allowed to be pastors (and everyone thought I was a woman). Women were allowed to teach children and to be youth leaders (but definitely not the youth pastor). I wasn’t sure what my options were, but I knew that somehow this is what I was meant to do.
In some ways I was reacting to a church where I felt both welcomed and unwelcomed at the same time. I was very involved in the youth program, led all sorts of ministry teams, was loved by many people in the congregation but I still felt uncomfortable. I felt like I had to be perfect, that there was no place for doubt. And also that there was no place for pain. That seemed wrong to me. It didn’t fit the experience that I was having. What good was church or God if it didn’t deal with real issues? I felt like maybe part of my calling was to constantly be bringing up those issues that people didn’t want to talk about. Needless to say that didn’t always go over so well.
Throughout my life I have had people telling me that the ministry I felt called to wouldn’t work out: You can be a pastor because you are a woman, queer, transgender. You are too liberal, too orthodox, too radical. You are too young, too casual, too whatever. It seems to me like the same people telling me that I can’t be a minister are the same folks who are often telling women, queer people, trans* people, and others that they have no place in the church.
And yet I have also had people affirm my call to ministry: People who hired me when I was young, who graciously listened to my critiques, who prodded my thinking.
Even in my darkest times: The times when I thought that there was no place for me inside the family of God I still felt like I had a calling. Maybe that sounds ridiculous, I only know that even when I try to walk away from the church God keeps calling me back.
So here I am. I still feel called to ministry. I still feel called to make and hold space for those who have often been left out of the church or told they don’t belong. I still want a place that is deeply spiritual that can hold space for our questions, our doubts, and our pain.
And the joy of ministry is that it’s also a place where I can use my other gifts: Writing, theatre, etc. Honestly, my life has been so bound up together with the future of the church that even when I write or do theatre or whatever I am writing out of a deeply religious place.
Basically I’ve been a church nerd since birth.
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Photo courtesy of carulmare