This is what I need to discern: I want to go back into formal ministry, but I am reluctant to go back to traditional parish ministry. I am a very different kind of Christian now than I was five years ago. But I have a gift for preaching, liturgy and spiritual counseling. I want to do these things, but I am almost convicted that I don’t want to do it for money.

I need the money. I need an income – Nicholas’s pension will only stretch so far. We need more money to save for our own place, to have a bit of a cushion in case of disaster. We can make it on the pension, with careful management. But –

New glasses. Medical care for me. My obsession – a woodburning heating and cookstove.

And the infrastructure of my church is geared to the paid ministry, even though that isn’t working well. Parishes can’t afford their priests. It makes us into a commodity, even into hypocrites. If we speak against the establishment when the established church is wrong, we risk losing our jobs. If we follow our hearts and the church objects, we lose. How many priests and ministers are compromising well past the gospel? We are called to lead the people of God away from the world and to the gospel’s green pastures, but the flock wants to make the rules about how we get there. Who are we serving, the worldly flock – or the Good Shepherd?

Here is what I need – discernment. Please pray over this and let me know. Pray, wait on the Holy Spirit, and let me know what comes to you. It will help me in my discernment.

God’s blessings be upon thee!


21 thoughts on “Discernment

  1. Wishing you all the best, if you contact The Mennonite Community. they may be able to help you start a church. They told me I should start one, I don’t believe as others of my faith do. Until there is a Mennonite Church near me, I will stay where I am but also keep true to my beliefs.

    • We have a nearby Mennonite group, and they are conservative about women leading the meetings. I’ve thought of that, but it isn’t a good fit for me. I really feel led to stay in the Anglican church, although my head tells me that is ridiculous – why stay where you are not wanted? But it isn’t about denominations and bishops – it is about Christ.

  2. You have gifts which you feel a call to use. The old way of using them – in the traditional paid parish ministry – doesn’t seem quite right to you. The Lord has given you an unease about that. Probably just as well, since where you are at in your spiritual life you are unlikely to be given such an opportunity by the Anglican Church in a way that you will feel you can fill with integrity.

    The Lord will open doors to the use of your gifts. In fact, your blog is one way that has opened. But more is probably coming, if you listen carefully. I don’t have a clear sense of how that will happen for you. Keep open. Maybe some sort of home fellowship?

    Don’t do for money that which does not seem right ordered (to use an old Quaker expression). I say that as an encouragement rather than a warning, as I don’t feel you would do so.

    Remember that we only need to know the next step in following Jesus. Don’t try to get ahead of him. Things are going to happen in your life that you can’t imagine now. Just keep following Christ step by step, and you will be amazed where He leads you. Take each step even if you can’t see where your foot is coming down. All your needs will be met (but not all what you see as your wants now). Jehovah Jireh is alive and well, and loves you immensely.

    Stay in the flow of the source of all power in the universe. It will carry you where you need to go. And all of us readers of your blog will be eager to see where that leads you!

    • Thanking thee for that sage advice – yes, one step at a time, and we are taking a big one, returning to homesteading. The blog has kept me sane, in touch, and helped me enlarge my horizons! Blesings to thee!

  3. How about a different type of ministry then parish ministry? Perhaps prison ministry or nursing home/retirement community ministry?

    In my lay speaking class they said that many of the people locked up in the nursing homes never get visitors and there is a definite need in that community.

    • I am planning to do that anyway, starting with the lady who owns the house we are renting. There will be others to see – former parishioners, and people will ask if I can stop in to see loved ones; the ministry will grow from there, I’m sure. I think I’m good at this, since I am not put off by dementia, illness, or strange smells.

    • As my daughter is a Certified Nursing Assistant and chooses to work in nursing homes because she wants to have an ongoing contact with her residents I have to respond to the “locked up” in nursing homes.

      The only locked units in nursing homes in the United States are for the Alzheimers patients to have become wanderers or have become combative and might hurt another resident. The ratio of aides to resident is much higher in the Alzheimers units than in your average nursing home.

      Many nursing home residents *are* forgotten by their families and would love a visit from anyone. There are regular activities for the residents. If you would like to get involved at whatever level you are comfortable contact the activities coordinator at a nursing home near you.

      My 10 year old grandson’s public school class went to the nursing home in our tiny town and the children helped the residents play Bingo.

  4. Magdalena, I will pray for you. In the meantime, I am very familiar with the dilemma you describe! Some thoughts in the meantime: offering retreats and workshops, and writing articles for magazines, can be ways to help, so can officiating at weddings and funerals.

  5. Keeping a prayer in my heart for you, that you’ll be led into the right way to use your gifts in ministry and the right way to increase your household income.
    By right way I do not mean there is “one right way to do things”, I mean the particularly right thing for YOU, the thing God has been preparing for you and that is the next part of your path.
    I know you have a listening heart, and will hear the leading when it comes.

  6. magdalena,

    i second everything already suggested here, especially Bill Samuel’s comment. It struck a chord deep within me re your situation. chaplaincy has been suggested, as well as facilitating retreats or a home congregation. these are all fabulous options. You’ve the integrity and ethical rectitude to stand up for the good in a way that is inspiring. the First Testament prophets did so also and those in positions of ecclesial power and authority in their day weren’t too thrilled, either.

    let us see where God leads. If you’re anything like me, the thought of following step by step, reather than straining to see ten steps ahead and factor for all possible outcomes is a ‘challenge’ of sorts…

    may you be richly and bountifully blessed, and know your Blog ministry and so forth has blessed me beyond measure!

    Thank you for all that you do,

    Sarah. .

    • You know me well! Despite my contempt for church politics, and my refusal to go along to get along, I would have made a good bishop – I am always looking well down the road, planning for contingencies. But we all must learn to trust God,a nd let Him have His way. Thank you for your kindness and insight!

  7. I feel that this is a hard decision for you because there is some element which is missing in order for you to make it. Perhaps it is the answer from the bishop or something else. I get the sense that once you have all the info you need you will make the decision immediately. I kept getting the feeling ‘there is something missing’ every time I read this text.

    • I think that your discernment is right. Mother Kay’s discernment is that I will have to talk to the bishop face to face, which I will arrange soon. Thank you and God bless you!

  8. Hi, I have been wearing a head covering since September 2010, according to 1Cor. 11:1-16 & James 4:17. I researched & prayed a lot first. I do not want to be rude or offend you, but I am confused about why you wear a head covering and also want to preach. From reading the Bible I came to the conclusion that the covering is because of God’s headship order (God is head of Christ,Christ is head of man, man is head of woman), and women are not to be in authority over men and should be silent. 1Tim 2:12, 1 Tim 2:11 & 1Cor. 14:34. What is your belief about this? –Sister in Christ, Amanda 🙂

    • I have explained this in past posts, so have a look at the archives. I am called in the Holy Spirit to preach, teach and educate. There is a great deal of misunderstanding of the letters of Paul; I would suggest that you seek a broader reading of the scholarship available to you. Have a look at N.T. Wright’s books, Paul and What Saint Paul Really Said. There is also a book you might find of itnerest by John Temple Bristow callede What Paul Really Said about Women. Bishop Wright is a retired bishop of the Church of England; Dr. Bristow is Disciples of Christ pastor. I am under the headship of Christ and the headship of my husband, as well as the headship of my bishop. This has nothing to do with gender.

      Please don’t bother prooftexting to me. Know the spirit of the Scriptures, not just the words.

  9. Sometimes I find that I need to pray for the spiritual 2×4 upside my head. I can sometimes want something so much that I just cannot hear the Spirit telling me what Heavenly Father wants me to do. There are things that I would do as an LDS woman that you wouldn’t do. . . except perhaps a day set aside to fast and pray?

    I will add to my prayers that the Spirit will find the way for you to know what to do. Sometimes the answer is “peace be still” and have patience. . . . I get that one at least once a year. I’m a slow learner.

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