Each week, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. This week, we’re thrilled to introduce Aurelia Pratt.
Aurelia, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
I became heavily involved in ministry while in college at Louisiana Tech University. The LA Tech Baptist Collegiate Ministry has long had a thriving student-led ministry, and there were many ways to grow and serve. I was a small group leader to freshmen for a couple of years, and I also oversaw the facilitation of the small group ministry as well. I traveled abroad for summer missions multiple times and served as President of the BCM my senior year. By the time I graduated, I had become accustomed to having ministerial commitments on campus or at church nearly every day of the week.
Following college, my husband and I moved to Texas so that I could attend Truett Seminary and Baylor University’s Master of Divinity/Master of Social Work dual degree program. If I’m honest, I arrived at Truett extremely burned out. On top of the burnout, seminary elicited questions and challenged my paradigm in many ways. So, even though my time at Truett was a highlight of my life that was full of happy memories, deep experiences, and rich friendships, it was also a confusing time for me spiritually. It took a while to understand that I didn’t have to choose between having an intimate relationship with God and engaging my faith critically. I am still learning exactly how to live in this tension each day.
While I was in seminary, I never really knew where the future would take me. I only knew that I wanted to devote my life to being a person of God and that serving people in some capacity made me happiest. So when people would ask me about my “calling,” it was always a little awkward. Still, I always had faith that the right doors would open and as they did, I would walk through them. I simply had to pay attention. My final year of seminary, two very unexpected callings revealed themselves to me: church planting and preaching. These are both things I never thought I would do (these are things I even said I would never do!), but these are the doors God opened for me. Whether I walked through them or God pushed me is debatable, but it was probably a little of both!
After I completed my degrees in Waco, I moved to the Austin area with my husband who was already commuting here for work. Through a number of amazing circumstances and events, which I can only describe as God-breathed, I now find myself working and doing life among a small, amazingly authentic congregation at Peace of Christ Church in Round Rock, Texas. I have been with this church since its inception in 2012, overseeing the spiritual formation programming and regularly preaching, but mostly learning how to be a better person of God in this broken, but beautiful world.
I’ve said before that calling is a lot like holding a water balloon in your hand. You can’t hold it too tightly, and its form is constantly changing as it rolls across your palm. I never want to think too concretely about how God has “called me” or where God will lead me next. Instead, my hope is to simply live in the present moment, trusting that a posture of listening is enough.
What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
The way some people in the congregation serve even when they don’t have to, even at great sacrifice. And the children. I am inspired by their imagination and sense of wonder.
What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?
Unreasonable expectations. I have to constantly remind myself that it’s my job to think about the things of the church every single day. Other people are probably slightly less obsessed with the happenings of the church.
Also, our church is small – small enough to really feel like an extended family. Family means family – good times and bad. It’s a challenge for me not to run from the bad. It’s a challenge to give grace every single day.
Who has inspired, encouraged, and affirmed you as you have lived out your calling?
First and foremost, my husband who has supported and empowered me wonderfully.
Second, Kyndall Rothaus who told me I could be a preacher. I am thankful for the example she has been to me, and I cherish her friendship.
Finally, my church, who ordained me. These people teach me how to be a better minister, but mostly they let me be me: sass, quirks and all. I am so lucky to get to do ministry in an environment that embraces authenticity and openness.