In this series, Adventist female pastors recently approved for ordination reflect on what women’s ordination means to them. Spectrum includes video interviews as well as their written thoughts on this affirmation by their local church conference.
The subject of women’s ordination means my church affirms God’s calling on my life. I have been a pastor for twelve years in three different churches: Campus Hill Church, Loma Linda Spanish Church and Azure Hills Church. Eight of those years have been in youth ministry and the last three have been in Children and Family Ministries.
My ministerial experience in the church has been with young people and their families. I deeply cherished every sacred moment I have spent with God’s people. I have baptized, dedicated babies, anointed the sick, performed marriages, taught for the Loma Linda School of Religion and led the church as I have followed Christ. I am first and foremost a disciple of Jesus and my mission has been to live after the model he has provided, meanwhile inviting others to join me as a disciple of Jesus.
As a disciple of Jesus, I have sought the best training available to me because God deserves my best. I studied at La Sierra University, Loma Linda University and Fuller Theological Seminary. I have been trained in Biblical Studies and Theology and Marriage and Family Therapy.
My entire life is devoted to God. Whatever God asks of me, I have vowed to give to God. Although at times I am afraid, unprepared, and reluctant, I have called deep on my courage and my calling and responded to God.
I really never considered questioning whether God’s calling on my life was appropriate for my gender. After all, this is the God of Israel we are talking about and God has a history of calling unlikely candidates to be disciples, apostles and leaders.
As an issue in our church, I do not view women’s ordination as a personal responsibility I have. My personal responsibility is to be loyal to my God and to obey God. My churches responsibility is to evaluate and affirm or deny God’s calling in my life.
I have felt the unspoken affirmation of my church in the following way: When an individual in my congregation or in the community has needed prayer or spiritual guidance, never once have they asked for my credential, because they recognize the God I serve they ask me to come as their pastor because of my devotion to that God.
The young people I minister to are shocked and offended that their pastor has been rejected for ordination based on gender. This past Sabbath, October 6, I was ordained at the Loma Linda University Church. That morning as I was talking to a second grader at Azure Hills Church, I discovered the impact of what women’s ordination means. The child told me she was going to be at my ordination and that her father had told her that “they only used to do that for men.” I asked her what she thought about that and she said, “That’s not very fair.” Then it hit me. As I attempted to explain to her what would be happening that afternoon at my ordination I said to her, “Well that’s okay because now they’re sorry and they are doing it for women too.” It is easier to explain forgiveness to a child than it is injustice, especially injustice that comes from a body, which is called to represent Jesus.
Young people will not accept a church model that makes distinctions between people, and they are not the future of our church, they are our church. As a pastor who has ministered to them for twelve years, I have consistently told them that God gifts all God’s people to serve God. My hope is that we will all be faithful to God’s calling in our lives because we will all give account for our actions. May God find us busy about God’s business in the world when God returns, no matter the overwhelming challenges that call may bring.
Marlene Ferreras is an associate pastor at the Azure Hills Church in Grand Terrace, Calif.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/4787