Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry features an interview with an amazing minister on this blog. Today, we are thrilled to interview Emily Holladay. Emily IS what a minister looks like!
Emily, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
I am currently pastor of Village Baptist Church in Bowie, Maryland (DC-area). While I was in seminary at McAfee School of Theology, I experienced a call to pastoral ministry. I knew, as a woman, it would be a long journey to the senior pastorate, so I focused on an area of ministry that I both loved and felt would be crucial to the life of the twenty-first century church (and beyond): family ministry. Since graduating seminary in 2013, I have served in a family ministry position at Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and Broadway Baptist and Crescent Hill Baptist Churches in Louisville, Kentucky. Before that, I served on communications staff of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
My greatest sources of joy in ministry have come from finding creative ways to connect people with the stories of our faith. The best compliment someone can give me after a sermon is, “I have heard that scripture many times, but never thought of it that way before.” I have found that especially true during this trying time of ministry and COVID-19. Even amidst the sadness and struggle, I have felt a real joy in creatively bringing the gospel into people’s living rooms. I love creating avenues for the hope Jesus offers to come to life in new ways, and seeing how people respond.
What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?
Besides navigating COVID-19 as a new pastor? Actually, the past few weeks have been very difficult, but the greatest challenges I’ve encountered in ministry have involved staying true to my calling even when circumstances have caused me to doubt myself and my calling. The church can be an extremely beautiful and brutal place in turn. We minister right in the messiness of real lives, and it’s a struggle not to take personally what is not personal. I have found myself coming back time and time again to the words of Brene Brown, specifically in her book, Rising Strong, “Just because we didn’t measure up to some standard of achievement doesn’t mean that we don’t possess gifts and talents that only we can bring to the world. Just because someone failed to see the value in what we can create or achieve doesn’t change its worth or ours.”
What is the best ministry advice you have received?
I was called by the search committee to preach in view of a call to be pastor of Village on the day my son was born. The church graciously gave me extra time to gain my footing as a mother before moving and beginning my position at the church. So, I spent much of that time reaching out to mentors and friends to ask what I needed to know or do in order to be the best pastor for my new church. “Be yourself,” they said. Every single person I asked. I really wanted more concrete advice, but I have learned over the course of my ministry that it’s the best reminder anyone could give. I can’t be anyone other than who I am, and they church interviewed everyone else. They wanted me. I would be shortchanging them and my own calling if I tried to be someone else.