Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing woman minister, and today we are pleased to introduce Brooke Holloway.
Where and how are you currently serving in ministry?
I currently serve at Memorial Baptist Church in Arlington, Virginia as associate pastor of youth and missions. I’ve been here for two years.
What have been some of the challenges you have faced in your ministry journey?
When I launched from seminary, with the warmth of the ordaining hands of a beloved congregation fresh on my shoulders, I began full-time ministry in East Texas—the very place I had mentioned to God when I said “I’ll go anywhere but there.” Providentially, God called me to East Texas, and the Lord forged things in my life, in that place, and with those particular people that are invaluable to me today.
I joined with a body of believers in a community where we faced abundant opportunities to serve and minister. Our journey was marked by the challenges of great need around us, mobilizing people to help, and then knowing what to do with those who responded! But, also in the midst of all the opportunities to minister, we went through a season of internal conflict, struggle, and division that lasted three years. Then we faced an exodus, and we sought to recover and forgive.
I say we, but in the “we” is an “I.” I, as a minister, faced the struggles of conflict, loss, forgiveness and moving forward. Sometimes the conflict we were facing corporately turned partially to focus on my role as a woman in ministry. So in the midst of the corporate struggle, I also experienced my own darkness, anxiety, and internal struggle—struggles that were already present but surfaced in a way that I could no longer ignore. I hit bottom and through counseling, I began the long journey of digging out . . . with Christ, with community. It was a journey—one that lasted years—and I remember the day I turned a corner and began to see light. I felt like I could breathe. I felt like the man Jesus healed in the graveyard—“sitting there in my right mind.” The Lord brought me–brought us–through.
The fruits of that journey and those days in the dark are being uncovered daily. When I look back at my season in East Texas, there is struggle and hardship but the good that came from that season abounds.
After a season in East Texas, much to my surprise, God waved me over to Virginia. VIRGINIA. I get to explore with this group of believers what it means to be in this “new” place. And also, I run across things that I’ve lost and get to build again—community, network, understanding of roads and where I’m going (and I mean that in the literal sense . . . thanks be to God for GPS. I also mean it in the figurative sense). I’m living into a new culture and listening to a church that’s been here long before me.
What do you love best about your ministry position?
I love the variety of what I get to do as an associate pastor. I love working with people and walking alongside them. I love waiting and listening for the leadership of the Spirit. I love watching light dawn in another’s eyes—the light that indicates the Spirit is working. I love journeying with people—whether it’s in our own community, across the city, across the nation or across the world. I love getting to be a part of people’s lives—the whole nine yards of life from newborns to seniors. I love getting to journey alongside partners in mission all across the world. I love the unexpected journeys and discoveries. I love the Story of God . . . and getting to find ourselves in it as a particular people in a particular place. I love this particular place with all its beauty, ugliness, interests and hardships. I love people. I love pastoring.
What is the best ministry advice you have ever received?
Along my ministry journey—which includes schooling as well as practice—many people have nurtured and guided me. I would like to share with you a few words that have been given to me over the years to count as the total sum of “best ministry advice” (i.e. I couldn’t pick just one!).
With that in mind, I’ll start with a question that my senior pastor at my last church asked me when I was sorting through how to keep all the balls I’d collected in the air. Wallace Watkins, with decades of pastoring under his belt, asked me, “How many things are you doing?” It took me a few minutes to sort it all and count . . . and my number exceeded ten. “Three,” he said, “I’m doing three.” And so goes my journey of learning that one must say “no” so that one can say “yes.”
During seminary my pastor, Julie Pennington-Russell, published some of her favorite quotes and one has become my constant companion—
“Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We would like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—and that it may take a very long time. Above all, trust in the slow work of God, our loving vine-dresser.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“Above all trust in the slow work of God . . . ” has become prayer, refrain, reminder for days when I don’t see anything happening. And, now that I’m a few years down the road of ministry, I’ve lived into these words long enough to have discovered that they are true. God’s work is often slow. God is working. I’m called to be faithful.