This submission is by Rev. Debra Hobbs Mason, the Executive Associate Pastor for FUMCR.
I began to discern a call into the ministry in the fall of 1989. The only thing I was really clear about at the time was that I wanted my life to matter; I wanted to make a difference. I was 26, single and grieving the loss of both of my parents in the previous 2 years. I was working in a job I didn’t love and trying to keep things stable for my brother who was finishing college.
Having grown up in the church, it was my natural second home. It was the place I felt loved, accepted, cared for and challenged at the same time. It didn’t really dawn on me that it was a place I could work. I came from a family full of United Methodist ministers – 5 who were active when I was growing up! But, none of them were women.
My home church, St. Stephen UMC in Mesquite, TX was the only church in 1988 to actually request a female minister. Cathy came and changed my life forever. My Dad was the one who suggested I get to know her and frankly at 26, I thought that was weird. He’d always been close to our pastors because he was the choir director, so it was very natural for him. I don’t know what I thought lady preachers looked like, but her platinum blonde hair, red finger nails and high heeled shoes were a surprise. She was beautiful, inside and out.
She was by my side when my Dad died. She’s the one I talked to when I wondered what it might mean to be a pastoral counselor. She told me about seminary, prayed with me, helped me navigate the ministry process and laid hands on me at ordination. She also co-performed our wedding when Marc and I married.
I entered seminary thinking I’d ask for an appointment beyond the local church as a counselor. God had other plans. I realized early on that my heart was in the local church, just as it always had been. As I studied, learned more about my faith and began to serve as a youth choir director and associate pastor, I found that God was equipping me every step of the way. I just took one step and then the other marveling all time that God was really calling me.
I never dreamed I’d be up in front of thousands of people every weekend, that people would have any interest in what I think or what I have to say, or that I would be welcomed into the most intimate times of people’s lives. The hardest days and the highest, holiest days are a blessing. Each of them teaches me something about God, other people and myself and they all matter! I wouldn’t trade my call and my path in ministry for anything.
|A photo of me in 1996 after participating in a Baptism Service for a young family.|