Mary Beth Foust ordinationA little over a year ago I was ordained by Central Baptist Church in Chesterfield, Virginia. I completed my seminary internship in that sweet community, and they supported my growth and my gifts as I walked semi-gracefully through my last year of theological education.

One Sunday following a worship service  at Central, I made my way to my internship supvisor, Nelson Taylor. I didn’t even really know what I was going to say, but I casually asked, “So what’s Central’s process for ordination?” His eyes lit up, and he immediately ushered me over to the senior pastor, David Turner, and asked me to repeat my question. After a few moments, David replied readily, “So, are you asking to be ordained?” I paused for a breath and answered, “Uh, I guess so?” And that my friends, is how the formal process of ordination began for me.

I never expected to be ordained. In fact, early on in my discernment process, I was sure it wasn’t for me, but soon it became evident that I would join the ranks of ordained ministers in my family—my mother, sister, brother-in-law, husband, and father-in-law.

As my ordination day approached, I made all of the necessary preparations. I found the perfect dress—one that made me feel beautiful and confident. My family surrounded me for a weekend of celebration. We ate good food and laughed well around all kinds of tables. The worship bulletins were printed, and my worship leaders were present and prepared. Even though I was ready, I felt as though I would never be able to comprehend fully the mystery of that day.

I was awestruck that a community of people that I loved would honor me in such a way. I was overwhelmed by the kind words of affirmation, encouragement, challenge and blessing that poured over me as I knelt down before God’s people. I knew that mothers, aunts, spiritual leaders, saints of my faith journey who had already gone and nurturers of my faith surrounded me in spirit. I was excited and nervous to be at such a point in ministry. Am I really old enough for this? Am I a “good and faithful servant” of this magnitude? Can I continue to be a faithful servant as I journey forward? I remember being filled with pure joy, like the kind of joy that comes, for me, on the first crisp fall day when my hibernating boots make their way from the far reaches of my closet.  Most of all, I felt completely undeserving of what transpired in the sacred space of worship.

Many times in my journey since that day I have felt overwhelmed by feelings of self-doubt and undeserved-ness. I wish I could say that I am as confident every day as I was on that time, but that would not be the full truth. Some days, I can barely squeeze enough confidence out to remember that there are others around me cheering me on and dreaming me toward a more rich understanding of God’s call on my life. I still find myself yearning to embrace more fully that deservedness is not a determining element of ordination. God calls, and the church and the minister answer together. And when the grace of the sacrament works as it should—we are all reminded just how much we do not deserve, but rather are gifted the daring spirit to answer a call.

Mary Beth Foust works as ministry coordinator at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Virginia. Mary Beth is an avid yogi, runner and will never turn away good dessert. She and her husband, Caleb, live in Short Pump, Virginia, with their two fur babies, Moses and Wrigley Anne. They are excited to welcome their first daughter this fall.