This Wednesday is my 30th “Ordversary” — or Anniversary of Ordination. I was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament on October 14, 1990. It’s the kind of date I don’t expect anyone else to notice. It’s pure happenstance that the date falls during Clergy Appreciation Month!
Years ago I blogged about the ordination ceremony as a Kodak moment because it took place in Rochester, NY, which is Kodak’s corporate home. Thirty years ago Kodak was a powerhouse that indirectly fueled the church I served.
Above is a photo from my seminary graduation in May of 1989, a year and a half before my ordination. (The delay was due to the fact that I was pregnant at my graduation. In those days the baby’s birth had to be in the past tense before I spoke with any churches.)
The Gift of a Stole
In the photo I’m wearing a stole that my mother (left) and my aunt (right) embroidered for me as a graduation gift. My husband snapped the picture at our house in Minneapolis.
I still remember how surprised I was to receive the gift of the stole. A stole is a vestment, or in other words, a mark of the priestly office. The church I grew up in did not allow the ordination of women. In fact, the role of women in the church was a highly charged and controversial subject. When I entered seminary my parents were non-supportive and upset. My mother asked me: “If I have a daughter in seminary, how can I hold my head up in public?” Fortunately I was in my mid-twenties and old enough to know that my mother’s feelings were not my problem, even if I did crave her blessing.
I certainly didn’t assume that my mother would approve of my graduation. The fact that she would hand-embroider a stole was very meaningful. This was not a random accessory. It was a gesture of support. Receiving it was very meaningful to me. I imagined my mother and aunt stitching that stole. Did each stitch, each minute, each hour, help them work their way into approving of who would wear the stole, and why? I still have this vestment, which is showing its wear after thirty years of baptisms and weddings.
The Once Unknown Future Became Fodder for a Book
I look so young in this photo. I was so excited to have finished seminary and felt on the cusp of everything wonderful! Not only was I a new graduate, I was pregnant with our second daughter. I gave birth to Clara in December and by the following fall we moved to the Rochester area. I wish I could say that things went well for me there. They did not.
In my latest book, The #MeToo Reckoning: Facing the Church’s Complicity in Sexual Abuse and Misconduct, I revisit my ordination and the events that followed, which were unexpected and unwelcome. That’s an understated way to describe them. I was abused. My senior pastor abused me, an associate pastor. I name that abuse in the book, and talk about why and how abuses happen, and why abuse is ignored.
Curious? You can read that chapter, for free, at the publisher, IVP.
As I mentioned above, October is Clergy Appreciation Month! Whether or not it’s your pastor’s ordversary, if you care about her/him, why not send a note for Pastor Appreciation Month? Ministry is a challenging profession.