From attending a Bible study to becoming a pastor
March 29, 2022 / By Pastor Maryellen Moore, Middleburgh UMC and Warnersville UMC
Teresa was 10 years old when her mom took her to see Billy Graham. It was an experience she’ll never forget: “I felt the Spirit” for the first time. A few years later her step-father took her to a non-denominational church, where she responded to an alter call, confessed that she believed in Jesus Christ, and, again, she felt the Spirit, this time as though she was being filled.
Her interest and spiritual thirst would grow for God. She studied the Bible and whatever else she could find to learn more about God, about Jesus.
Since then, Teresa attended non-denominational churches and was particularly intrigued by the way pastors led people. She spent time with them and found ways to support their ministry.
After exploring the non-denominational churches during the course of her younger years, she attended Cobleskill Wesleyan Community Church (Fusion). Although she enjoyed the fanfare of this church, she was seeking a church home where she could develop her own knowledge and experience of God through ministry.
After a few years there, she was invited to join her friend and neighbor, Fran Sossei, for Sunday service at Warnerville UMC. More recently Teresa attended a newly formed Women’s Bible-study group “A Deeper Look” for the Warnerville and Middleburgh communities with me. The group begins with prayer. We use a talking stick (a wooden carved cat—Del Gato) as a way to take turns and hold a loving focus on each other as we speak.
The group prayerfully considers the scripture reading and sermon context from the prior Sunday. Each answers the question, “How does this scripture reading apply to my life?” It is a trusting and safe environment to speak up about our own challenges, hopes, and sense of call as women seeking to nourish growth in Christ.
Teresa makes it a point to attend every session. Her reflections are discerning and genuine. During one session she shared a story about her own childhood desire to, one day, become a pastor. It was a moment of clarity back then and became an even greater moment of clarity when I asked her if she wanted to study and work toward that dream. She said “yes!”
We scheduled a meeting to sit together at a local bakery the following week. She shared her own Christian upbringing and passion for learning more about the Bible, study, and, now, develop her own path toward ministry.
In late February of this year, she became a member of the Middleburgh UMC with continued connection to the Warnerville congregation. Her zest for learning is contagious to me and to the members of both the Middleburgh UMC and Warnerville UMC.
Since then, Teresa has written a letter of interest to District Superintendent Nancy Adams and is currently reviewing The Christian as Minister together with me. She is enthusiastic and eager about preparing herself to enter into the “Course of Study” in the fall.
“I’m not sure how I’m going to do this with a full time job, but I trust God will guide me in this,” Teresa said.