In the course of the dozens of interviews conducted for this project on women leaders in the church, it is always striking when someone shares a specific moment in time that solidified their call to ministry. How people perceive the cues they sense from God or through others can be spoken of as an internal or external call. God’s call comes to people “externally” through others who are verbally affirming another's gifts and how one’s qualities could benefit the church. We also speak about one’s “internal” call—how one perceives God is intimately speaking to a person about the direction in ones’ life.
Growing up at a time when women pastors didn’t exist shaped her journey. Listen how the Senior Pastor Tania Haber of Westwood Lutheran Church in St Louis Park, Minnesota, shares how she processed God’s call:
During her college years at Gustavus Adolphus College, Tania Haber thought she would like to work in campus ministry. Positive experiences working with youth in the Willmar area after college led her to enroll in Luther Seminary with the idea of being a campus pastor.
When she arrived on the Luther Seminary, she was part of the first larger wave of women attending seminary. Having women on campus was still such a new idea that they had to put a sign with tape over a few of the men’s restrooms for the women seminarians.
It was during her internship experience where when she was assigned to serve a “wonderful mission congregation” that she felt drawn to leadership in the parish. She has served the church for more than 30 years since being ordained in 1985.
Pastor Tania Haber has seen a lot of change in the church in general and knows there are future challenges for women and men alike. Yet, she is resoundingly positive about the grace shared by God in the person of Jesus Christ. This is the grace modeled at Westwood Lutheran, where the Senior Pastor believes in embracing the messiness of life and people. Pastor Haber said, “When we say all people are welcome, we mean it. You are loved. You are accepted. Now, let’s go change the world”.