Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Bridging the Word and the World

7/17 2014

Ministry: God Qualifies the Called

youth ministry in Pittsburgh

Joy Pedrow (second from right) felt called to ministry in her youth. She now interns with the Seminary’s Miller Summer Youth Institute.

What do you want to do when you grow up?”

This is most common asked question to a teenager or young adult, and the most hated. In high school, kids are 14-18 years old. At such a young age, it is challenging to completely know the answer to this question.

During my 10th grade year of high school in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, I started to get the call that God wanted me to go into ministry. What ministry has meant to me has changed over the years, but I knew two things: that I wanted to help people and that God was pretty cool. Combining those two things seemed perfect.

When I was asked that question, I felt embarrassed to share with others my heart’s desire for my career, so I would always reply, “Orthodontist.”

This was the safest way to go. If I would say, “I don’t know.” Then, I would get additional questions, “Well, what is your favorite subject? Did you like math? How about teaching? Etc.…”

These questions never helped me make any decision. Thus, I realized the safest thing to do was reply, “Orthodontist.” There were no follow up questions, just a nod of agreement and maybe an encouraging statement.

For a high schooler, it is extremely difficult to fully trust God with this subject. It is difficult to share with others when you are not 100 percent sure that this is what you will spend the rest of your life doing. Students also worry about what others will think of their choice. I worried people would not understand or they would try and talk me out of it.

The Miller Summer Youth Institute at Pittsburgh Seminary provided a safe place for students to discuss a call into ministry. There were many opportunities to ask questions, talk to peers, and begin to start trusting God with this decision.

When I was thinking about going into ministry, I believed the lie that one had to be perfect. I questioned, “How could I help people in their walks with God when I was not perfect?”

It is common to respond to God’s call for one’s life and say, “I’m not qualified.” My response now is, “Well, what is qualified? Name one person in the Bible who was qualified.”

Abraham lied about Sarah. Moses stuttered. Jonah ran away from God. Peter denied Jesus. The disciples fell asleep while praying. And there are more examples found all through scripture!

As you go through the process of figuring out your call, remember that God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.

Joy Pedrow was born in Monroeville, Pa., and is now pursuing her communications degree at University of South Florida. An alumna of the program and now an intern, Joy is exploring her call to ministry with the Seminary’s Miller Summer Youth Institute. Check out her blog at http://joypedrow.wordpress.com/

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7/8 2014

Women in Ministry

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MDiv student Rebecca DePoe offers the communion elements to Katie Campbell.

When I graduated from Grove City High School in Grove City, Pa., in 1997, I had never seen or heard of a female pastor. And certainly, I had never considered going to graduate school to earn an MDiv. In spite of my leading and planning worship since the age of 15, receiving a scholarship from my high school for Christian ministry, and then going to college to major in religion, the possibility of being called to pastoral ministry never occurred to me.

Upon graduating from college I discerned that the best way for me to serve others was through social work. I entered the MSW program at the University of Pittsburgh having no idea the adventure God had in store for me. Through my work I discovered that an MSW was not enough, I wanted to add theological education to my social work experience. To my delight, some of my friends and professors told me about the joint MSW/MDiv degree with the University of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Seminary. This changed the course of my life.

Through my education and field placements at PTS my world opened up to the possibilities of how God could use me to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ. And though I had been wandering around trying to figure out how to put my gifts together, the perfect structure, degrees, and future was already in place for me.

I wish my story was unique, surely in 2014 everyone has been exposed to a female pastor. But each summer I have a conversation with one of the high schoolers at the Miller Summer Youth Institute, and I am the first female pastor they have met. And I tell them my story and how God’s plan for our lives is greater than we can ever imagine.

Not all of the SYI students are called to pastoral ministry, but for both the men and women, just knowing it is possible grants them a freedom to dream, pray, and explore their own calling.

The Rev. Erin Davenport is a 2005 alumna of the MDiv program. Through the Seminary’s joint degree program, she also earned her MSW from the University of Pittsburgh. A former chaplain, she now resides in Pittsburgh and serves as the Seminary’s Director of the Miller Summer Youth Institute.

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6/19 2014

Why Detroit?

General Assembly Presbyterian Church (USA)What was the Presbyterian Church thinking when they decided to have the 221st General Assembly in Detroit, MI? Of all places! (As you’ll recall, the last Assembly was held in beautiful Pittsburgh, PA. Just sayin’.)

Haven’t they seen the news? Don’t they read the papers? Don’t they know Detroit’s a warzone? Dangerous? Hopeless?

Several friends of mine expressed concern that I was planning to drive by myself from Pittsburgh, PA, to the Motor City. The guy at the rental car counter (a total stranger) expressed concern at my plan as well.

And for a brief moment, I began to have second thoughts as well.

Rest assured, I arrived safely from Pittsburgh, in one piece, unscathed. And do you know what I have found in Detroit?

Jesus. Beauty. Homelessness. Art. Struggle. The Church. Redemption. Hope.

The Presbytery of Detroit, our hosts for the meeting, chose this for the week’s theme: “Abounding in Hope” from Romans 15:13, “Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope” (The Message).

I have found an unfolding story of redemption in Detroit. I have found people in ministry who have not given up on their city and churches who are not willing to give up on their communities. I have found a denomination that is willing to be a part of this story by meeting within its bounds and bringing with us an influx of cash and business.

My beloved hometown of Pittsburgh has a similar story of redemption: a resurgence of life in its streets, commerce on its corners, hope in its homes. I feel a kinship with Detroit. Their story is my story. And it is OUR story.

Our story, as Christians from Pennsylvania – Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Washington and Warren, Allentown and Altoona – and Michigan – Detroit and Deborn, and all over the world, is a story of redemption, of a God who left the throne in heaven and came down to be one of us in the flesh, and through Christ, rejoices in what gives us joy and mourns that which breaks our heart.

And I believe God’s heart is broken for Detroit. But from what I’ve seen, the good folks of Detroit are doing their best to put the pieces of Detroit and God’s heart back together again through the power of the Holy Spirit.

As a Presbyterian, I am glad to be a part of this story.

Written by the Rev. Allison Bauer ’05, pastor of Frankfort PC near Pittsburgh, PA. She is an alumna of the MDiv program and serves as the moderator of Beaver-Butler Presbytery.

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