Magazine profiles two women from seminary


Gillard and Orris write articles for magazine for women in ministry

CHICAGO, IL (November 25, 2008) – North Park Theological Seminary graduate Lisa Orris and current Seminary student Catherine Gilliard are profiled in the latest issue of Called, a magazine for female pastors and women in ministry.

Each have leadership roles in the Evangelical Covenant Church—Orris as the director of evangelism for the Department of Church Growth and Evangelism, and Gilliard as pastor of Commissioned Disciples Covenant Church in Stone Mountain, Ga., and president of both the African American Ministers Association and the Association for Covenant Clergy Women. Gilliard was also the first woman to chair the denomination’s executive board.

Orris expresses in her article that the church must not change the gospel it communicates, but rather the way it communicates the gospel. Fifty years ago, people still trusted the church, she observes. “People still thought Christianity was a good thing. Not everybody thinks like that today.”

This change in perception requires those within the church to be better listeners, Orris adds. “Our approach to evangelism can’t be this idea of ‘I have all the answers, you know nothing; I’m saved, you’re not; I’m churched, you’re not,’ ” she says. “It’s got to be more of a sharing, and a listening, and appreciating people’s stories and where they’re at.”

In Gilliard’s article, she shares how she has had to overcome racism and the belief among some in the church that women should not be pastors.

So how does she encourage other women who may find themselves in this position? “You just faithfully stand and wait on God,” Gilliard advises. “Eventually, He makes room for your gifts.”

Her church, Commissioned Disciples, is now four years old, and is committed to embracing the marginalized, including ex-offenders who have been incarcerated. “I’ve watched over and over again people who’ve entered into our community say to us, ‘I’ve read about this kind of love . . . but I never would have believed that there was a place where I could personally experience it myself,’” says Gilliard.

Her diverse congregation is small, and she cautions ministers against accepting the notion that bigger is better. “I often ask people who are struggling to stay faithful to calls in small ministry, ‘What if this is all God has for you? What if these 20 people are all He wants you to mentor for the rest of your life? Will that be enough for you?’” she says. “The question is, 'Is my church doing anything to impact lives, change communities, dismantle systems of injustice?'” Notes Gilliard, that is the real measure of fruitful ministry.