My Unconventional Ordination Process
From the age of four, I have felt a distinct call to preaching and providing pastoral care. While patriarchal ideology from family and church tried to keep me from it, God did not revoke this calling from my life. After years of struggling to find an alternative calling,God has ultimately brought me back to the call originally given to me.
Over the last few years, I have found myself in a place where I am giving pastoral care to victims and survivors of abuse as well as preaching about God’s compassion and healing for the wounded.
As this ministry continues to unfold, I desire both accountability and credentialing for this life of service to the wounded, which lead me to seek official ordination.
The Progressive Christian Alliance provides a reputable medium for ordination. With thousands of members, the PCA is a 501(c)(3) organization with an active leadership board which provides training, spiritual discernment, ordination, single and dual church affiliation, and accountability for those who have aligned with their alliance. Their statement of belief focuses on love, service, and radical inclusion while allowing for personal spiritual growth and diversity of belief, a quality I find beneficial for my evolving faith. Clergy accountability is of the utmost importance to me and the PCA’s extensive code of sexual ethics, developed by a trained social worker, provides clear accountability for ensuring ordained clergy refrain (and are held accountable) from sexual abuse, harassment, and discrimination as well as a proper response when abuse is disclosed.
For this reason, I have sought ordination through the Progressive Christian Alliance.
I have submitted the following to the PCA board:
Completed Application for Ordination form
Resume with past and present work experience, including all educational experiences
Signed Ministerial Promise
Essay on how I have experienced God in my life and in the world
Essay on my theology as it applies to social justice and radical inclusion
Essay on my theology as it applies to ministry
Federal criminal background check, to be renewed bi-annually
Letter of mental fitness to serve in a ministerial capacity, keeping with the “do no harm” clergy code of ethics, by a Licensed Therapist
Certificate of advocacy training from the Sexual Assult Response Program, a division of the YWCA
Verification of clergy communication training through Canticle Communications
Intensive personality and spiritual gift test results provided through the Know Thyself program of Rekindling Ministries
Signed Membership Covenant
Signed Ministerial Code of Ethics
In addition to my childhood calling and God’s current leading to minister to the abused, my discernment process included:
A discernment and spiritual direction weekend at the Forum for Theological Exploration Discernment Retreat
Use of a discernment grant from FTE which allowed me to attend the She Is Called Conversations Conference and gain Canticle Communions training
A year-long mentorship and discernment process with Rev. Katey Zeh
Prayer and confirmation of unity with my husband
The affirmation of my calling by four pastors, two female and two male of differing denominations (Baptist, Evangelical Free, Presbyterian USA, Vineyard Church)
A recommendation by my appointed PCA advisor, with the assurance of theological understanding and fitness to minister
Confirmation and acceptance by the PCA board of directors
Having engaged in this meaningful multi-step process, I will be receiving ordination through the Progressive Christian Alliance in a formal ordination ceremony on October 21, 2018.
Ministers of the Progressive Christian Alliance are authorized within the PCA Canons and the laws of the state in which they serve to act in a manner consistent with their calling; to serve sacramentally, ceremonially and publicly. PCA ministers are also recognized by the BCCI, Board of Chaplaincy Certification Inc. affiliated with the Association of Professional Chaplains.
The ministerial title given at my formal ordination ceremony will be: Rev. Ashley Easter
At this time, I do not intend to plant or pastor a traditional church. I have found myself to have the greatest pastoral impact in serving survivors online and through traveling, speaking, preaching, training, and meeting survivors and their supporters around the country. My ministry likely will not veer far from my current path; but, I will now be doing it with the accountability and credentialing structure of The Progressive Christian Alliance.
I look to the example of Mister Fred Rogers, a minister ordained to the ministry of mass media, Public Television. I believe my call to ministry will take many non-traditional forms. God’s Church is broader than a brick and mortar institution and I feel my calling as a minister cannot fit neatly into a traditional, institutional church setting. In order for me to appropriately address the power structures that have harmed victims, I must step outside of these structures but do so with the accountability of others.
A Note from Ashley’s husband Will:
“Ashley's love language is Words of Affirmation, combining this with the general challenges women face as ordained ministers, I ask that if Ashley’s ministry has touched you in anyway that you consider writing a note through this form with words or prayers of blessing. These words of life will help to sustain her when she inevitably comes up against those who disparage her calling as a woman minister.”