Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Bridging the Word and the World

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.

Comments ( 2 )

  • My niece and sister can’t get along and my sister keeps emotionally abusing her and threatening her about kicking her out of her second home and my niece is 5-months pregnant and she wants to move out and start all over without my sisters abuse and i don’t blame her for wanting to start on her own.Can you give advice on helping her move out with her child to avoid her moms violent threats?

  • Gene-Thank you for your reply. It must be extremely stressful and difficult to be in the midst of this situation. I would encourage you to reach out to your local church pastor or priest. They can hopefully direct you toward a non-profit, therapist, or even group within your church that will be able to best help this difficult situation. If you or someone you love is in imminent danger call 9-1-1. They will be able to help you in the midst of an emergency to gain the support that you need.

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