So, I am no longer the newest staff person at church. Last week, Pastor Barry officially started as our church's "settled minister." Everyone's pretty excited about that, although of course with any new person, there are always adjustments, and some people are already balking at change.
Even though Pastor Barry and I had met and have been shooting emails back and forth for a few weeks regarding programmes and such, it wasn't until yesterday that we were able to really sit down and talk and get to know each other. I have decided I like Pastor Barry. (I suspect I will like his wife, Mrs. Wendy, too, particularly as she was named after Wendy from Peter Pan, but I've had even fewer interactions with her.)
Last week had started out a little uneasily, because the Sunday school staff had decided to have a communion service once a month and Pastor Barry, on hearing this, was not happy at all, since he doesn't consider it to be communion unless an ordained person is administering it. I hadn't really thought this through much, but I thought it through a lot after that, and while I do believe communion should have a certain "set-apart" feel to it--it's not just french fries and soda and no thought involved--I also don't think you have to have a piece of paper from an acredited institution giving you permission to administer it, though I decided it wasn't worth arguing the point.
Yesterday, though, we had quite a nice chat, and I was impressed. First of all, I trust his book selection. Of the titles I could see at a near-to-middle distance on the book spines on his shelves, he has Celebrating the Disciplines and Prayer by Richard Foster, Amazing Grace by Kathleen Norris, and Soul Friend by Henri Nouwen. Also, I was telling him about my car situation (about which I shall probably tell you one of these days), and he was very supportive. He said he didn't know anybody selling right now, but he seemed like he thought it was important for me to get an new (or at least improved) vehicle, and like he might actually look into it for me a little himself.
He was also really supportive of my getting ordained. Did I tell you I was thinking of getting ordained? I didn't really know I was either--at first all I knew was that the church wanted to pay for me to get some extra training. Then, right before they left, Pastor Ron and Mrs. Dona said they thought I should ditch the Christian Education training track and go for an MDiv. Given the fact that the last time I went to seminary before I quit, the classes I actually liked were the Bible ones, this idea did have a certain appeal. Given the fact that I have had, in the last four years, a complete reversal in my thinking about women in professional ministry that I wasn't even looking for, it doesn't seem like a complete non-sequitur.
I'm still trying to figure it out, and Pastor Barry said, "If this is something that God is calling you to do, I definitely support it." Right then, apart from the books, I decided I liked him. I'm glad he brought God in as the condition, not as an afterthought, and that he didn't just say, "What do you feel like doing?" I don't think God totally discounts our feelings (although in my more cynical moments I might say He doesn't discount them at all--He gauges them and then finds something for us to do that's exactly the opposite). I also don't think it's all that easy to discern what God wants all the time. But it matters to me, and I was glad to have His role in the process and in our lives in general acknowledged and reminded to me.
The church has some scholarship money available, and so I had written to the Trustees about the possibility of using it, but when I told Pastor Barry this, he said, "It's not just about handing out money! A decision like this needs the spiritual oversight of the church, too. You need to bring this to the deacons." I liked that, too. I also liked that he got right on it, telling me he was meeting with the deacons that night and I should send him my request that afternoon.
Apparently the deacons were enthusiastic about the ordination idea, as Pastor B was pleased to tell me this morning. "Now," he said, "we can take it to the trustees." I need to get cracking with my application, I guess!
I like this guy.