Shepastor: “Reflections of a Pastor, 14 years in the making…”
Fourteen years ago today, January 15th, 2006, a small, fractured, struggling congregation called me to serve as their senior pastor. They had been without a pastor for approximately 3 years. I became their first female pastor, first African American pastor and only the 2nd female senior pastor of a mainline Baptist denomination in the Greater Cleveland area. With great anticipation, joy, excitement and hope we came together as “Pastor and People.” Hope for a new beginning, hope for a new reality, hope for multiculturalism, hope for growth, stability, ministry…
A new reality did indeed emerge, but not the one we had anticipated and hoped for. New growth meant facing thoughts, feelings, prejudices and fears that we may not have known existed. The death of a significant number of elderly members meant deep feelings of grief and loss, not only of their presence, but of an era. The emergence and involvement of new members evoked fear from others of the loss of power. We were not prepared for the avalanche precipitated by the tides of change.
Numeric growth – cancelled. Economic stability – devastated. The dream for a bright, new, thriving ministry all but extinguished. God had another plan. “Seeds planted” look a lot like a burial. Growth with deep roots takes time. Our faith was challenged to the core. We learned in new and life changing ways to “lean upon the Lord.” The small group that was left banded together. A new vision for ministry emerged.
We learned the value of collaboration and ministry outside of the four walls. We sold the old property and took the resources gained to do a “new thing.” From the ashes was birthed a book for female pastors, a blog, contributions to other books, articles, workshops, seminars, lectures, sermons and mentorship opportunities. Members have learned in a greater way the power of tithing and the overall “Stewardship of life.”
In the words of my pastor, “When our plans fold, God’s plans unfold.” Our plans folded. The congregation all but died. But God kept a remnant for Himself. On September 6th, 2019, “Covenant Baptist Church,” closed. “Restoration Ministries of Greater Cleveland, Inc.,” was born. The journey continues. Our dreams have been exchanged for God’s vision.
Read more about our journey at www.rmgrcle.org
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,