Baptist Women in Ministry occasionally features an interview with an amazing minister on this blog. Today, we are thrilled to interview, Melissa Scott. Melissa IS what a minister looks like!

Melissa, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving. 

Pastoring has been called an “odd and wondrous calling,” and my journey has certainly been both. Over 21 years ago, I graduated from Baptist Theological Seminary and accepted a call to become the minister of youth and education at Colonial Avenue Baptist Church in Roanoke, Virginia. If someone had whispered to the young woman I was then that I would eventually pastor the church, I would probably have fallen over laughing or run away screaming. And yet, on February 28 of this year, I found myself being installed as pastor. I am grateful for the ways that this church family has encouraged me in my calling and has been willing to listen (and ask me to do the same) as that calling has evolved.

What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry? 

A new position came with a new office, and as I cleaned and sorted two decades worth of ministry mess, I came across a drawer full of pictures of my first few years at the church (from the time when we had to use film and print photos). It was a bit of a shock to realize that the youth in those pictures were now older than I was when they were taken. It has been a great joy to walk alongside families, to hold babies when they are born, to send those same babies out into the world when they are grown, and now, to hold some of their babies.

What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?

A long ministry in the same place wouldn’t be possible without finding a network of support. One of my greatest sources of joy in ministry has been the result of following advice I received very early on: don’t try to do this alone. As a fiercely independent person who much prefers giving help to receiving it, this was a hard lesson for me to learn – and one of the most important. From a group of local women in ministry who gather periodically for lunch and support, to my peer learning group, to ministry partnerships with other churches, joining with others has brought me great consolation, joy, and strength. Our church has long had a wonderful relationship with a Presbyterian church that is only a couple of blocks from us, and doing collaborative ministry with the pastor there has been such a blessing. For several years, as an associate pastor, I even shared my time between the churches, guiding joint ministries for both churches’ youth and children. I believe that this expansive view of sharing the work of God’s kingdom is necessary for the church to thrive, especially today.

What is the best ministry advice you have received?  

Serving in one church for an extended time has resulted in a drawer full of youth camp t-shirts, a wall full of pictures drawn by children, a contact list of friends and colleagues that support and challenge me, a heart that has been broken – and mended – by God’s people more times than I can count, and the sure knowledge that God is faithful on the journey!

Melissa Scott is pastor of Colonial Avenue Baptist Church in Roanoke, Virginia.