Each week Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. This week, we are thrilled to introduce Beth McConnell.
Beth, tell us about your ministry journey. What is your current ministry position?
I am currently serving as the pastor of Kathwood Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina. Prior to this position, I had the opportunity to serve wonderful congregations as children and youth minister, associate pastor, and minister for adult education and missions.
Tell us about your journey transitioning from Church Staff to Pastor.
A few years ago, I was asked how I was adjusting to being a pastor. Great question—because it allowed me to articulate a common ground among most women in ministry I know. My answer to that question was that I have been “pastoring” for thirty years. I have pastored children and youth, parents and grandparents, parishioners in the hospital, singles and college students, missions groups, retreatants, deacons, Sunday School teachers, brides and grooms, and families in grief. I guess you could say I pastored them in small, segmented groups and now I pastor them all together! I suppose the most significant difference is that now I am recognized as a pastor. There is a richness our congregations miss when the ministerial staff is divided as Pastor and Staff. There is a limitation placed upon church staff when they are not recognized as serving in pastoral roles. Hierarchy is a false empowerment that sets a standard more Western in nature than Christ-like. So the transition from church staff to pastor has several layers of definition, but by-in-large it has been a delightful time for me to celebrate the fullness of congregational ministry.
What have been your greatest joys in life and ministry? I find joy in relationships. Certainly, that is how God created us—to be relational with God and with others. There is joy when I recognize that I am in God’s presence as I stand by the ocean, scan the vastness, hear the rushing water, feel the salty breeze. There is joy when I am sharing a good holiday meal with my family, watch my daughter blossom into a young woman, explore a new town or city with my husband. There is joy when I talk with a church member about sacred moments in their lives, lead worship with a congregation who loves one another and God, offer educational opportunities for individuals to grow in their understanding of God, provide opportunities for people to slow down and recognize God in their midst. Joy is a daily occurrence—when I allow it to be.
How do you spend time in self-care? The older I grow, the more I understand the complexity of one’s health. Physical, spiritual, emotional, mental become more interconnected than not. Some of our health is within our control or at least manageable. Some not so much. So let me simply say what is renewing for me: spending time by the ocean, a babbling brook, a cool breeze; studying the Bible, hearing the faith journeys of the saints, being included in the holy moments of peoples’ lives; getting lost in a good book, floating along on the notes of a good song, being caught up in the drama of a movie or play; vacationing outside cell phone coverage, visiting family and friends, and having an exceptional meal with a friend.