Today we have a guest post by Rev. Olivia Addison. She lives in Atlanta and talks about her experiences on the staff of a church.
I am Rev. Olivia Addison. I attend seminary in Atlanta and I am a full-time staff member of a church. My official title is Special Assistant to the Pastor. My pastor does not have a problem working with female ministers. In fact, it was the Assistant Pastor, who was female, who recommended me for this position. I had been helping her with her duties whenever she needed assistance. She was going to get married and leave the state. The pastor was also reorganizing the staff. And this new position was added.
When the Assistant Pastor told me that she had recommended me for this position I couldn’t believe it. First I was shocked and surprised. But as I thought about it, I was honored that she thought so well of me. I had only been at the church for about 2 years. But I was also apprehensive because I didn’t know what would be expected of me.
When the pastor offered me this position I accepted. A couple of years ago I had left my job because I had been injured. I had recuperated and was ready to start a new job. So this position came along at the right time.
My duties are to attend functions that the pastor is not able to attend because of other commitments; attend ministerial alliance meetings that he is unable to attend; and be the go-to person for bereaved families in the church.
I am always busy. This position requires lots of work. I have attended functions with the governor and also the mayor in my official capacity. Sometimes I represent my pastor at meetings with other clergy. I visit bereaved families, pray with them, see what assistance they need, approve funeral programs held at my church, and whatever else is needed.
I haven’t run into much prejudice against female ministers except on the ministerial staff of my church. There are about 10 associate ministers. Some have been at the church much longer than I have. So I have heard whispering about why I was selected and not them. This is especially true for other female ministers at the church. I mostly ignore the whispering and remain professional as I carry out my duties.
I had already developed a great relationship with the congregation before I started this position. Whenever something needed to be done I did it. If the kitchen staff is shorthanded I pitch in to help. The pastor has often told me I should let others do this, but that’s the kind of person I am. I help out wherever needed. So I think my willingness to think that no job was beneath me has helped me form good relationships within the church family.
One incident of prejudice against female ministers has come from another pastor. My pastor was asked to make remarks at a funeral. He couldn’t attend so he sent me instead. When I arrived I discovered that there were 2 other female ministers who were to speak on the program. We were not allowed in the pulpit. We had to sit on the front row and speak from the floor. After we spoke a male minister who had arrived late also made his remarks from the floor. He was invited into the pulpit after his remarks. He declined. Afterwards he told me that he declined because the same invitation was not extended to us (the female ministers). I appreciated his candor and his simple act of protest.
I enjoy working in my position. I wouldn’t call it a job. I call it being a servant. I am assisting my pastor and also the members of my congregation.
My advice to female ministers is to stay humble, ask God to lead you and guide you in every decision, know how to relate to people, and keep everything spiritually based. Doing these things will go a long way in helping you carry out your calling.