Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry features an interview with a fabulous minister on this blog. Today, we are pleased to interview Kat Kimmel. Kat IS what a minister looks like!
Kat, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
I grew up in the church and felt a deep sense of belonging there. I was encouraged and loved and formed by that community. When I was a sophomore in high school, our church hired a woman youth minister, and she changed my perspective; she opened my mind to the possibility that professional ministry could be my path too. This was something that simply hadn’t occurred to me before. Then my great-uncle went into hospice care, and as I went to visit him one day I found him in conversation with the chaplain. Neither the chaplain nor my uncle seemed to notice I was there, and I am so grateful, because I got to witness that holy moment.
After college I went on to divinity school with a sense of calling to chaplaincy, and after a quick detour through the church, that’s where I went. After graduating, I went to work in Berea Baptist Church in Johannesburg, South Africa—a church that I had come to know and love while volunteering there a few years prior. From there, I came back home to do a chaplaincy residency at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina, before beginning work as a hospice chaplain in Shelby, North Carolina, my home town. There I got to work with an amazing group of caregivers and enter into the holy spaces of people’s lives as they prepared to transition from this life—and there I learned what a gift listening can be.
Then, in 2013, I took a chance and moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to begin a new journey as associate minister at University Baptist Church—a position that would stretch, strengthen, and encourage me. University Baptist has challenged me and filled me with joy. The church has helped me grow as a minister, called out my gifts, and allowed me to love, lead, and care for them. In 2018, the congregation called Brett Harris and me to serve as co-pastors, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to continue in ministry with University Baptist and walk this road of faith alongside them.
What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
There’s so much I love about ministry but my greatest sources of joy are the people I meet, the stories I hear, and the life I get to share with people.
What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?
For me, community is at the very heart of ministry and church. It is my greatest joy, and it offers the greatest challenge.
What is the best ministry advice you have been given?
“Listen.” It’s easy to get ahead of ourselves, to make plans, to want to implement our own ideas, but what we do and say has little effect if we don’t listen well to the people we are working with and for, if we don’t get to know people—if we don’t build trust.