Sunday, January 07, 2007

Elegy for a Pioneer

My brother's mother-in-law died this past week. Adele Cole was an 81 year old retired Covenant pastor. She was a curious woman. Whenever we would meet, I would lean down and kiss her cheek and she would say loudly "Oh, Donnie Johnson!" Then turning to others she would say, "His brother married my daughter, so kissing me is allowed." Adele was a definite presence wherever she went. She was a full-contact conversationalist, with opinions and thoughts about an incredibly wide range of topics.
But what made her unique in my book of memory was her pioneering spirit as one of the first women in ministry in the Covenant Church. She plowed into the boys' club of ministry with a twinkle and a laugh. She knew who she was and where she belonged without a lot of external approval from the culture or community. It takes a special person to pioneer somewhere; a person not risk-averse or think skinned to criticisms or sniping. Pioneers are not always easy to live with because their fires burn hotter than status quo. They have battles to fight and hills to climb. Adele climbed those hills for other women in ministry and for us men in ministry.


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