Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces a fabulous minister. Today, we introduce to you Sara Robb.
Sara, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served.
My earliest memories involve playing “Lord’s Supper” with my sister and the children of the four families on my parents’ mission team in Brazil, South America. We played church all the time, taking turns being the preachers, even the girls. The summer I turned five, we baptized my mom every day in the pool out back. My early curiosities paved the way for a journey that was at times difficult but always meaningful.
I was raised on the mission field and planned for years to be a missionary myself. One spring break in college was all it took for Baja California, Mexico, to steal my heart. I spent summers during seminary in Mexico, translating for mission teams and serving as a cross-cultural liaison. Seminary preaching class was where I found that part of me that had always longed to make a mark on the world but couldn’t figure out how. Though I had “preached” my share of “sermons” to the missionary kids and our pets who would gather for “worship,” I was terrified of preaching class. Somehow I managed to preach my first sermon ever… and loved it.
One of the most formative days of my ministry journey was the time I preached in a church for the first time. I’ll never forget that day. My parents and many of my friends were there, and my New Testament professor was also there. “Thank goodness, I’m preaching from the Old Testament today!” I thought to myself as I stood up to preach. It was an indescribable moment, and more significant that I knew at the time. Later that week, my mentor, Gwen Brown, said to me “we need to start thinking about your ordination. I’m glad you are interested in chaplaincy and have this residency opportunity, but your place is in the church.”
The day I began my chaplain residency was the same day that I lost my mentor. On that hot August day, after a long illness, Gwen died. I learned so much during my time as a chaplain, and my peers walked me through the process of reorienting myself amidst my grief and also the disappointment of my ordination being put on hold. I was called by Scott Boulevard Baptist Church in May 2015, and ordained in February 2016 in a service that rivaled my wildest dreams. My ordination certificate sits, framed with the worship order, on the back wall in my office between two windows. I look at it often because my ministry journey has certainly been an unexpected blessing of rocky, winding roads peppered with soft grassy knolls of rest and renewal. It continues to be an exciting time as the spirit blows and I do my best to follow.
My ministry, to me, is an extension of all the greats who have invested in me. Professors, mentors, my parents, and my grandfather. Ministry to older adults is the legacy that my grandfather, though gone now, and I are building together to ensure quality spiritual and emotional care for older adults, especially those who live alone.
What have been the greatest joys you have experienced in your ministry journey?
One of my greatest joys in ministry is how much serving as a minister has enriched my practice of writing. Ministry is a treasure trove of opportunities for self-reflection. Opportunities to lead the pastoral prayer in church has helped me venture into spiritual writing as well, and this has been a blessing both to my personal life and my ministry life.
I lost my grandparents early, and I’ve always been close to grandparents and surrogate grandparents in my life. I have one step-gran left, and sometimes she forgets that we are in each other’s lives. Being ordained to ministry and affirmed by a congregation of grandparents was one of the most wonderful joys I’ve experienced in my life. They tell me every time they see me to “please buy an umbrella,” “don’t work too hard,” and “get some rest this weekend.” To be loved and cared for by my people as much as I love and care for them is tremendous.
What have been the greatest challenges?
My greatest challenge in ministry, and in life, is fear. Until I was able to learn to see myself as God and others see me, I was nearly crippled by a fear of failing, or worse, not being perfect. I’ve been able to make huge strides in doing what I can to show up and love people. Sabbath, however, is also a great challenge for me.
Creating space in my life to write, to rest, to be is an ongoing quest and the road ahead is long. I can tell by the way little voices of fear creep in from time to time, that I’m not observing Sabbath as I should.
Who have been your best sources of encouragement and inspiration in ministry?
My parents, both ministers to the core, have always been my greatest supporters. Some of the churches in the faith tradition in which I grew up were vocal about my place—or my “unplace”—in the pulpit, but that was not a message I ever received from my family. Gwen Brown helped me claim my place in the pulpit and in congregational care, and my professors at McAfee School of Theology were, each in their own way, wonderful guides along an unfolding journey of self-discovery.
McAfee will always be a heart-place for me, because there I found my voice. I’m inspired daily by the people I serve alongside with at Scott Boulevard, lay leaders and staff alike. We are a partnership of people who love God and others, and want to participate in God’s work in the world. As a woman in ministry, I follow in the steps of fierce and faithful women who have paved the path I walk. What a blessing to pave the path ahead on the shoulders of women like Addie Davis and Ann Judson; and Gwen Brown and Jane Hull. I walk a holy path, rich with inspiration from people who have shown me what it means to be a follower of Christ.