Every Friday Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister, and today we are thrilled to introduce you to Beth Riddick. Beth IS what a minister looks like!
Beth, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
My initial call into ministry and going to divinity school was to pursue foreign missions. In 1997, I went to Ukraine for the first time on a summer mission trip, and I continued to go there until 2006. I often look back on those early experiences in volunteer missions with great fondness and as being formative to the minister I am today.
While in divinity school and then following Clinical Pastoral Education, I served two churches as children’s minister. Yet chaplaincy is where I have found my home. Being with people is where I am at my best in ministry. Being with people in times of crisis, being a calming presence, praying for people, and sitting with patients at end of life has been an honor. I am entrusted with stories of faith, struggle, child rearing, love, marriage, military service, hurts, and joys at the bedside of so many different people from so many walks of life. I currently serve as a staff chaplain with Mary Washington Healthcare (MWHC) in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where I cover units throughout our health system, including the inpatient behavioral health units.
What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
My greatest joys in ministry have been those sweet moments where I have been reminded that I am not alone in serving. Remembering back to the little four-year-old who told me that she prayed for me every night carried me through a tough time in local church ministry. Having served with MWHC for nearly ten years, I am often remembered by families that I have worked when they are readmitted into the hospital. When they say, “You were so kind to us, you being there to pray with and for us made a difference in our lives,” that gives me joy and confirms that I am living out my call to serve others who are in crisis and am bearing witness to their pain but also to a greater hope in God.
What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?
Caring for my body with proper rest and exercise and discovering the right rhythm and plan for myself has been my greatest challenge. I tend to wait too long to take a vacation. Recently, I went to Ireland on a two-week pilgrimage, studying Celtic spirituality. I found a renewed spirit within myself as I walked around ancient ruins and heard about the saints of Ireland.
Over the last two years I have started lifting weights, discovering the full capacity of my physical strength has been a struggle and a huge accomplishment. I see what happens in people’s lives when they neglect their bodies, and I have committed to being as strong and healthy as I can. This body I have been given needs to last me a long time!
What is ministry advice would you give to a teenager discerning a call to ministry?
If you feel called into ministry SHARE it with someone who will encourage you to pursue it and not stifle it! If someone discourages you or tries to stop you from claiming your calling, call me, and I will cheer you on!
As a teenager I felt my call to ministry, but I was told by one person not to share it publicly because it would give the appearance that I was copying a male youth who had announced his call that same summer. A second person told me that the women who were in ministry were there because of their husbands and that ministry was not a realistic option for me as a female. Both conversations were devastating, so I kept that call close throughout college and into my first few years of teaching even though I continued to go on short term mission trips. Then finally a friend said, we need to get you to seminary. I never looked back.
My advice is surround yourself with those who will cheer for you, support you, and help you explore where that call, even though it may initially be a whisper, will take you.