Hey guys! Welcome to our new website, and my first blog post. I thought I'd take a few minutes to introduce myself, and offer some reflections on the question I get asked a lot: "So, um, what should I call you?"
I've been ministering here at Mt. Nebo since September 2016. These first few months of my ministry here at Mt. Nebo have been a grand adventure. Never in my seminary studies did I learn how to manage a preschool, make sense of contractor's reports, or work through payroll issues. Thankfully, my seminary education did instill in me a sense of curiosity, and a sense that the work of pastoral ministry does not fall upon the pastor alone. I am lucky that here at Mt. Nebo I am surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses- congregants, staff, preschoolers, and local clergy- who are teaching me how to be a pastor.
Part of what makes pastoral ministry such a grand adventure, are the many different hats I wear. With each different hat comes a different name. On Mondays-Thursday's I wear my preschool hat where I am Miss Rebecca to the preschoolers, and Rebecca to my staff. Except when a congregant drops by for a chat, where I am either Pastor DePoe, Pastor Rebecca, Rev. DePoe, or my personal favorite, "The Pope." On Sunday mornings, I am a combination of all of the above with the occasional "Hey, You!" thrown in there.
This question of naming is particularly challenging question for female clergy to negotiate. In their book This Odd and Wondrous Calling: The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers Lillian Daniels and Martin Copenhaver explore this tension. Copenhaver writes:
"Female clergy are accustomed to hearing questions like, "Well, what exactly should I call you? The manner in which the question is asked makes it clear that it is properly translated, 'Surely, you don't have the same title as a clergyman?' 'Are you a reverend?' someone will ask as she exits the church after a funeral." *
Personally, I prefer Rev. DePoe if someone asks what to call me. Most days, Reverend fells like the only title big enough to hold my various offices. Also, there are moments when this title can bring people comfort that my first name cannot. When I visit a sick congregant in the hospital, they want to see the Reverend DePoe, not Rebecca. When a couple comes to me to get married in the church, they want to be married by Reverend DePoe, not Rebecca who got ordained online. It's helpful for me to lean into my title as I work to fulfill my call to ministry.
But I'll also answer to "The Pope." No offense Pope Francis!
*Daniel, Lillian and Martin B. Copenhaver. "What Shall I Call You?"This Odd and Wondrous Calling: The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009. 81.