God’s Call– Ileana Garcia-Soto

gods-call-ileana-garcia-soto

Ileana Garcia-Soto
Solo pastor (part-time), Prince of Peace Covenant Church, Mondovi, Wisconsin
Ordained: 2013

My Journey

Why did I go into ministry? God called. It was as simple as that. The call came early in life, but at first I did not want to follow. It wasn’t until I was serving as a camp counselor in Unalakleet, Alaska, that God called again—that time I said, okay!

I did not have female models of how to be a pastor. My models were men. When I entered seminary, I started to look for the women.

Finding a call in the Covenant took time. For a while a friend housed me for very little rent, and I cleaned North Park Covenant Church in Chicago. My first call came from Green Timbers Covenant Church in Surrey, British Columbia, where I served as pastor to children and youth. I remained open to call and that status did not change for three years. I did not want to look outside of the ECC, but I was getting close to doing that. So when Prince of Peace Covenant Church in Mondovi, Wisconsin, offered me a part-time call, I jumped right in. I also work loading trucks for UPS.

Challenges

One thing that has happened in both congregations I have served is that people left the congregation because the church hired a woman. I am aware that this will continue to happen—the hard part is knowing that Christians will reject me because I am a woman, not because of my ability to do the job.

I wonder if I will ever minister in a Spanish-speaking context. At an ECC Annual Meeting two Latino pastors questioned my call. They asked me if my husband will permit me to serve in ministry. I told them I am single. They countered, “You will not be able to counsel men.” I answered, “But men can counsel women!” They could not convince me that women should not be pastors.

Joys

One of the rewards of being in ministry has been the care, respect, and new level of love that comes from my family. For them what I do is of great importance and a source of pride, and they affirm me regularly.

I have also been greatly encouraged when people tell me that I have broadened their perspective about who is in the pulpit. It is wonderful to be in a position to witness spiritual growth, “aha” moments, and to listen to testimonies of change due to my ministry. Every time I wear my stole I am reminded of the yoke of Christ in my life. So instead of being a source of status and power, I am humbled by it.

Alias:

My dad gave me the nickname fua fua because I do things so quickly. Puerto Rican comedian Carmen Nydia Velazquez used the phrase to depict a fast, efficient cleaning lady.

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