On International Women’s Day (Thursday 8 March), members of the Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod share their thoughts on what it means to be a woman of faith.
Rev Catherine Solomon is the Minister for the Blackall Range, servicing the including Maleny, Montville and Palmwoods.
Journey Online: How long have you been involved/connected to the Church?
Rev Catherine: Being born five years before the birth of the Uniting Church I feel very much a Uniting Church person. I have always been connected to the church and have been involved in leadership with the church locally and wider since 16 years of age.
What inspired you to pursue a career as a minister?
Rev Catherine: In a nutshell – God! When I was 18 I felt God nudge me to go into youth ministry but felt I needed a ‘real’ job before considering that as a ‘career’. Of course, now realising now that youth ministry is a real and serious vocation. Then when I turned 30 a good friend Louisa Webb who has since deceased confronted me one day saying, “Catherine I think you’re to be a minister.” Then within a couple of weeks, my congregational minister at Sherwood Rev Peter Clark said, “Catherine have you thought about ministry.” I thought even though I’ve grown up within the church I have never read the Bible right through, how could I become a minister without doing this? So, I began from Genesis and got to about Judges and put the Bible down and walked away from my faith. This was not the God I had grown up with and I felt duped. I then considered other faiths and during this time my husband Andrew encouraged me to continue going to church while I struggled inwardly and spiritually to make sense of it all. I knew there was something bigger than me and I eventually came to conclusion that the God I grew up knowing is the most reliable, patient and loving being who wants reconciliation with all of creation and a deep personal relationship with me as I am. There is no other faith that offers all that. It was a great revelation that came at a time when I needed to know who I was – God’s precious daughter. Some years later God then nudged me again, in fact God shook me from my sleep and called me into ministry. I gave up my music teaching and began a new season of life.
Journey Online: Describe your role? How would you spend a typical day?
Rev Catherine: My role as Minister of the Word is complex, varied, diverse, challenging, exciting and incorporates amazing moments of privilege walking with people in very personal and often difficult moments of their life. I cannot imagine doing anything else for God. I am assured nearly every day that I am where I need to be in ministering to God’s flock, equipping them in their lives and supporting the church in moving forward that brings God glory. There is no typical day in the life of a minister. The only reliable routine I have found is starting the day with God, ending the day with God and leading every Sunday morning. Anything that happens between Sunday and the next Sunday is varied and unpredictable.
Journey Online: What are some of the challenges you have experienced to date?
Rev Catherine: I am now into my fourth year of ministry and it like every day I come across something I have never encountered before. The challenge is to keep God focused in all that I do, to rely on God’s strength through the Spirit’s guidance and Jesus teaching and grace and not to rely on my own understanding or abilities alone. The biggest challenge in this placement is ministering to three very diverse congregations that each have their own joys and challenges and overseeing in the leadership, pastoral care, equipping the body, keeping organising and being available. It’s a demanding vocation but worth so much for God’s kingdom.
Journey Online: What advice would you give to other women thinking of entering ministry?
Rev Catherine: I provide suggestions from my perspective but really they are not gender specific.
- Be sure of who you are. Know that you are God’s daughter/son and that your confidence, your abilities, your giftings, personality, etc all who you are is God given and Christ’s grace received – not based on what you think or others think of you. Stay grounded in Christ.
- Ministry is a giving vocation. While I never thought of it at the time not being to have children of my own has been a blessing as my time is flexible to be available for congregational needs. I have wondered how men and women with children manage to balance the giving of congregational ministry and giving to family life.
- Be intentional in keeping friendships outside church life/placement life – Ministry can be quite isolating at times. Develop good friendships where you can turn to them anytime and where you can have fun without talking shop.