In my work with CBF in the area of reference and referral, it can get pretty discouraging for both myself and for women pastors who are seeking places of service. Openness to the whole idea seems to come pretty slowly to our churches. I often hear, “I don’t think our church is ready for that.”
Add to that the news of recent days that the Georgia Baptist Convention decided to no longer accept funds from FBC of Decatur, GA, where the Reverend Julie Pennington-Russell is pastor because she is a woman.
But this week, I got the proverbial shot in the arm with an email I received from Elizabeth Evans Hagan. I am printing it below with her permission:
I know that in years past you haven’t had a lot of hopeful stories to share with young women feeling called to the pastorate. But, I am excited to share with you that this doesn’t always have to be the case.
From the moment I entered seminary in 2003, I felt 100% called to the pastorate. Though many people told me I was crazy, I pressed on, knowing exactly what God wanted from me. While in seminary and even beyond, I grew in my love of preaching and pastoral care. And, most recently during my tenure at FBC Gaithersburg, I’ve have great practical experience as to how my gifts and graces for ministry fit into a church life. All of these things helped me to know that I was ready for a senior pastor position.
So, as of November 2nd, I was called to the pastor of Washington Plaza Baptist Church in Reston, VA. I will be supervising two staff members and am thrilled about this opportunity to do what I love every week in the pulpit and amongst the people during the week. I will begin there on Jan. 1st.
Please feel free to share with other young women who come to you that even a 28 year old female can be called by a church to pastor— I’m very thankful that God has led me to this wonderful opportunity and hope that even more called women find churches like the one who has called me. I feel confident that times are changing and have changed in Baptist life and I’m so happy to be a part of the change.
Rev. Elizabeth Hagan
I love her palpable excitement about her call. And I also love the fact that she wants to share a ray of hope with other women like her who want nothing more than to live out their God-given call. I also love the fact that Washington Plaza Baptist Church was willing to open themselves to all the possiblities in their search for a pastor.