Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry features an interview with an amazing minister on this blog. Today, we are thrilled to interview Allison Rodgers. Allison IS what a minister looks like!

Allison, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.   

My ministry journey has been an interesting one, but most definitely a journey. If I had to pin point a moment in which I realized I was on this path, it would have to be after one summer of serving at FUGE Camps. I had just finished my freshman year at Georgetown College, when Joe Hicks hired me last minute and put me on a plane to California twenty-four hours later. If I had known a bunch of middle schoolers would point me in the direction of my call to ministry, I would not have believed it. I spent 10 years in the summer camp ministry setting as summer staff. I trained staff members as a Recreation Director, coordinated programs for girls aged seven to sixteen as program director for Glorieta Camps, and mentored college aged staff as they looked after their campers at Camp Ozark. I attended seminary with the intent of continuing in recreation ministry.

While at George W. Truett Seminary, I was introduced to the world of Pastoral Care and Leadership. Again, at the time, I was not aware I was being drawn in this branch of ministry. It took a traumatic snake bite in my last summer of camp for me to sit down and acknowledge that I was burnt out. My heart was not in it and it took a significant amount of time to tell myself that it was okay, this chapter of ministry was complete. I graduated seminary not knowing exactly where I saw myself serving and took time to discern my calling while serving as a merchandise buyer for a local outdoor store in Waco. I was given the space to think and look back at my seminary experience and realize that I had spent quite a bit of time building skills in the pastoral care side and began my search for my vocation.

In 2017, I moved back to my hometown, Louisville, KY, and accepted an offer from Wade Rowatt to explore Clinical Pastoral Education at St. Matthews Pastoral Care and Counseling Center. I used this opportunity to explore chaplaincy, thanks to Rev. Jessica Jasper, at Hardin Memorial Health in Elizabethtown, KY. When people ask how I became a chaplain I tell them, “Honestly, it was by accident.” When I began CPE, I had no idea what I was getting into, but after that first day I was hooked. I took on a full-time position at HMH in May of 2018 and have been there ever since. No day is exactly the same, and I love that. The work of a chaplain is difficult, but it is also fruitful and fulfilling. I spend my days learning people’s stories and supporting them through some of the most difficult moments of their lives. I minister through being present and providing a listening ear. When I was searching for direction in ministry after graduating seminary, someone asked me what my dream job would be. I told them, “If I could spend my day, sitting and talking with people about their lives, I would be happy.” That is exactly what chaplaincy has been for me. It also led me to ordination in September of 2019, and I am curious to see where this journey will take me.

What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?

While I love the various people, I have met as patients in the hospital, I have found true joy getting to be a part of the lives of those I work alongside. To be welcomed into other’s sacred spaces is so meaningful and I am so thankful for that. We laugh, cry, and share life with one another. I have found joy in seeing my pastoral role in a unique environment. I may not be preparing sermons each week, but I am a part of community of diverse individuals, with different definitions of what spirituality is and who God is for them. I am in awe of being invited to share their journey with them.

I have also found joy in the meeting other women in ministry through my work. There is an unspoken understanding between us and love that moment another woman shares that she too is an ordained minister. I have loved the women I have met through my BWIM cohort and cannot describe how wonderful it has been to have them to turn to during this time in my career.

What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?

Post-graduation from seminary was a particularly challenging time for me. I would put my resume out there and ask various ministry placement organizations for assistance and would be asked why I was not applying for a particular genre of positions. It was difficult to explain how even though I worked in summer camps, I spent more time with adults than I did with children. It was often difficult to put yourself out there for a position, knowing that half of the jobs you applied for would not look at your resume once they saw your feminine name. I often describe the four years after seminary as my “wilderness” years. I felt lost and uncertain about if I really was called to ministry or not. If it were not for my supportive family and friends, I would not have made it through this difficult time. I am truly thankful for them and the strength I built within myself as well.

What is the best ministry advice you have received?

  “You can only do what you can do and that is enough.”