By Pastor Colleen Montgomery
On February 24-26, 45 of our synod’s female rostered ministers gathered at Roslyn Retreat Center in Richmond for a time of retreat, conversation, worship, and renewal. The concept of the retreat was Inspired by similar gatherings held in the North Carolina Synod. The Virginia Synod retreat was planned by Assistant to the Bishop Pastor Kelly Bayer Derrick, Pastors Phyllis Milton, Katie Freund, Wanda Childs, and Colleen Montgomery with the support and skill of Lenae Osmondson. Dr. Mindy Makant, professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University and deacon rostered in North Carolina, guided our conversations as we unpacked the blessings and challenges of being a woman rostered minister in the Virginia Synod. We had some of our most experienced female pastors with us as well as our newest female ordained pastor, Pastor Alex Witt, among the participants. Next steps as a result of this retreat will be taken over the coming months and years to ensure that all whom God calls may serve faithfully and boldly.
Worship was a powerful component of the retreat. During three of our worship times we sang versions of Mary’s Magnificat found in Luke 1. While some may think that singing three interpretations of the same text would be too repetitive, I experienced it as a beautiful reflection of my sisters in Christ. We are all rooted in the same God, but each of our calls and each of our journeys is different. This was also shown forth in the Blessing of Hands that concluded our time together. We blessed each other’s hands with lavender oil, but no set words of blessing were provided. Each one, led by the Spirit, blessed the hands of her sister with unique words of God. We are united in Christ with all of children of God, but each created, chosen, and called to serve in their own way.
All those gathered give great thanks to the organizations, congregations, and individuals whose financial contributions made this experience possible.