Alicia IS what a minister looks like. Alicia, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
Having been raised in an extremely conservative Southern Baptist church, I wrestled long and hard with a burgeoning sense of call during college. There were plenty of negative voices at the Baptist Student Union BSU at the University of Georgia where I spent much of my time, joining the ones ingrained in my memory, my head, and most indelibly, my heart. There were also supporters who helped create a safe place for me to explore that call and try to figure out what in the world God was doing in my life.
Doors did not open in the familiar places we knew as home.
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Instead, a door opened at an American Baptist congregation, Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, in Huntington, West Virginia, where Eric serves as senior pastor, and I serve as associate pastor-adult education. Moving house, jobs, and three adolescent boys to a new church in a new state in a new and very different region has been both a grand adventure and profound challenge.
I am so very grateful. Preaching, teaching, writing, worship, and pastoral care are my natural favorite aspects of ministry.
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The opportunity to walk with, be present to, and care for people in their hardest, holiest, and most-everyday-moments has been and continues to be one of my deepest joys in ministry. Helping people delve into their own discipleship is a source of great meaning to me. I love to help create discipleship opportunities from classes to small groups to retreats to studies that welcome, affirm, and inspire.
I am so very moved when people claim me as their pastor; what a humbling, joyful gift to belong to each other and to God. What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry? The role of women in the early church was clearly important, but not given much play in the New Testament. Most people fail to see the bigger picture, she said, and that is also true in our reading of the Bible, where the bigger picture clearly involves women.
Romans 16, for example, speaks of Phoebe, Junia, and other women who were close companions of Paul. Indeed, of 26 people Paul mentioned by name in the book, eight were women. Poujol, a New Testament scholar who teaches at the Institut Catholique of Paris, pointed to translation issues that have often obscured the role of women. Phoebe Rom.
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In the New Testament, the diakonos was often a minister or emissary who taught or preached the gospel, Poujol said, things that Phoebe did. The word prostatis — used to describe Phoebe — was also used to describe Roman officials in leadership positions, and it is used in 1 Thes. Prisca Priscilla is mentioned in six New Testament texts. In four of them — all in contexts of ministry — she is mentioned before her husband Aquila.
Both are qualified as co-workers of Paul.
Hanging with Junia
The role of Junia has been shadowed by a debate over whether Junia in the accusative case is a masculine or feminine name. The difference is seen in an accent mark, but in the oldest and best manuscripts there are no accents. The Nestle-Aland critical edition of the New Testament, commonly used by scholars, had the feminine form until the 13th edition in , when it was changed to masculine: but it was changed back to feminine in the new 28th edition. In Rom. Lozano noted that women were among early martyrs for the faith, including Blandina, Perpetua, and Felicitas.
Widows who received support from the church were expected to visit the sick and engage in other service ministries. Women also served as deacons in the early church, she said, but the title later shifted to men only.
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Some women who wished to show their devotion to Christ lived as ascetics. These included Macrina, the older sister of Gregory of Nyssa. She had to enter an arranged marriage at age 12, and after her husband died, she decided to devote her life to serving Christ. After her brothers died, she led the remainder of the family to live ascetically and founded a monastery for men. Marcella and Paula also lived as ascetics, and were known to have influenced the church father Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin.
There is some evidence of women serving as presbyters, with responsibilities for multiple churches, but that is disputed, Lozano said.