Julie’s Jar, “30 Years”

It’s been 30 years. I’ve served First Christian Church of Pomona for more than half my life as associate pastor, acting pastor, senior pastor, pastor. I have little stickers a friend gave to me close to 30 years ago that read “There’s nothing sinister about a woman minister.” My husband and co-worker in the vineyard (Mike Fronk), likes to opine, “There’s something sinister about a woman minister.”

Devoting one’s life, one’s ministry to building the body of Christ is a pretty low status endeavor, especially these days, even in the church. Much more interesting, provocative and popular are so-called niche ministries, entrepreneurial ministries. People have a passion they want to pursue; that’s fine, but I wonder if one really needs to be ordained for pursuing one’s own passion.

Building the body of Christ is important and messy work. Without this important work however, individuals would be less likely to discern a vocation, a call to pursue a particular focus. Building the body of Christ is still, I believe, necessary work, even if it’s not of particular interest to seminarians, denominational executives and the like.

“Society is losing the art of fostering community,” according to John O’Donahue in Eternal Echoes. Fostering community is at the heart of building the body of Christ. We are a school dedicated to learning our original name, “beloved”. We are a school committed to learning the art of forgiveness and compassion.

It may not be sexy, popular, provocative or provide someone with their perceived need to feel “passionate” about what they do, but I still believe, after 30 years, that building the body of Christ in the world and for the world is the best work a pastor can do. In fact, it is my opinion that a pastor is someone who does precisely that in partnership with the community of faith. It’s not always focused. In fact, it’s all over the place. On any given day I will engage in pastoral care, plan worship, write emails, prepare a class, make phone calls to remind people about a meeting or invite to an event/meeting/class/etc., visit a member, meet-up with a visitor, participate/attend a meeting. There are days I wish it were more focused and less frenetic; there are days I’m grateful for the richness of the variety. I am always grateful for the privilege of being part of people’s lives in the various ages and stages of development, learning, crisis, celebration and service.

Thank you, dear friends in Christ. Thank you for allowing me to grow up in Christ with you these last 30 years. For your patience and perseverance, for your love and living. I have become more of who I think God created me to be because of you. I hope I have and will continue to help you become more of whom God is creating you to be.

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