Called and Chosen
by Kathye Hamm
I was cleaning off our coffee table a few weeks ago and saw a magazine which was under some others. (It was the March issue, which no doubt — now gives you an indication of how often I dust!! Oh well . . . ) I had missed it when it had come in the mail. I yelled out to Thomas, “Hey look! Tita is on the front page of the Living Lutheran!” I was so excited I sat down right away and read the article about all the women who were on the front cover. One was a pastor we knew from New Jersey. Another was our new Director of Evangelical Mission – Pr. Tita Valeriano. And another was our speaker for our upcoming Professional Leaders Conference – Prairie Rose Seminole.
They are all women of color who are telling their story of how God has called them in their lives, of the obstacles they have encountered and how their faith has given them the strength to move forward. As I read each one, I was inspired by their stories as they relate how they have been encouraged by other people of faith to keep going despite the many obstacles they faced.
Here’s what Pr. Tita wrote: “The intersectionality of oppressions is real in our church and society, and I will continue to challenge them alongside other women, some of whom have been my mentors. The most important among them is my mother, Remedios, who proudly put my stole on my shoulders at my ordination, an expression of her belief that women are called and chosen too. She passed away four years ago, and I miss her dearly. She gives me strength everyday in life and ministry.”
It brought tears to my eyes as I thought of her mother putting her stole on her daughter, and I remembered my own mother’s continued support of me. To be sure, I encountered sexism in the church as a young woman, and yet I know that my sisters of color have experienced so many more closed doors than I did. It’s so important to hear their stories.
Prairie Rose Seminole wrote these words: “My faith is influenced by millennia upon millennia of indigenous roots in this land, 2,000 years of Christianity, 500 years of the Lutheran church, and more than 500 years of genocide and policies to wipe out the first peoples in our country. In the years to come, reflection, reconciliation, holy experiments and holy experiences will drive the transformation of our church. As a church, it is time to tell our shared story, heal from our past and give gratitude that we are here.” (Seminole is the American Indian Alaska Native Program Director for the ELCA)
I am looking forward to listening to Prairie Rose share her story with us in October at our Professional Leaders Conference. (October 16 – 18)
There are 17,460 rostered ministers and deacons in our church nationally. Only 250 of them are women of color. That’s only 1.4% – one out of every 70 leaders. You can download “Called and Chosen” to read about more stories of women of color in our church, including clergywomen from our synod: Pr. Linda Boston, Pr. Tuhina Verma Rasche and the Rev. Dr. Alicia Vargas.
As we listen to their stories and as we consider our own stories, may we be open to the ways the Holy Spirit is transforming our church.
May God continue to bless you in your call to serve Christ in our world,
Quotations taken from March issue of Living Lutheran.
November 13, 2018
November 05, 2018
October 31, 2018