Each week, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. This week, we are thrilled to introduce Erica Whitaker.
Erica, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
Journey is embracing Way when it opens and when it closes. My journey continues to be learning equally from the closed doors and the open doors, for both continue to guide me.
I, like many women called to ministry, found more closed doors than open ones inside the church. I knew at a young age I was called to this messy work of ministry and would soon discover deep with my spirit a calling to be a senior pastor. Discovering this calling is daunting alone, but living into it at times feels almost impossible.
I am almost thirty-years-old now and have learned to let go of deep grievances against those who closed the doors in my face. They have their own journey to take and I will continue on mine.
Trusting the Spirit to guide me even behind locked doors has led me to places I never expected and to serve along people I needed to know. Churches, hospitals, and so many other places have stepped out in faith and called me to serve beside them.
I served alongside brothers and sisters of different faith traditions as a chaplain taking five units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Methodist Health System in Dallas, TX. I served alongside hard working special education teachers in Arlington ISD. I served alongside a congregation is transition at Agape Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. I served alongside colleagues learning to live out their calling as pastoral residents at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.
Now, I am serving as senior pastor alongside a brave congregation at Buechel Park Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. My journey has led me here where I will continue faithfully following the Way along the unknown road ahead.
What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
My greatest source of joy in this season of life is sitting on my back porch. The small glimpse of the beauty of Kentucky in this sacred space. The rosy cardinals sit before me in the morning as I read and drink my coffee. The lush trees behind my home centers my soul for the blessed work of the day. My two dogs join me in prayer as we embrace the birds and bugs, the fresh air, and the foliage along with the sweet smells of the springtime.
What have been your greatest sources of challenge in ministry?
My greatest challenge is forgetting to laugh. The sacred work of ministry is not as serious and severe as pastor’s like me try and make it. There will always be long to-do lists and crisis each day. The messiest will always return with the grumpy gossipers and maddening emails. Laughter helps me not take myself too seriously. Laughter lightens the unnecessary burdens we put on ourselves when we become addicted to busyness. Laughter, when I embrace it, frees my spirit to love more fully.
Who has inspired you along the way in this ministry journey?
My family in Texas continues to inspire me. My parents and brothers have always supported my calling to pastor. Even when they could not articulate why God could use women in ministry they loved me and encouraged me to step into the pulpit and proclaim God’s truth. Even when my calling led me away to another place far from them, they continue to support my family and I as we plant roots and partner with God’s work here in Kentucky.