Ragnhild Jepsen attended a youth camp in Holland while she was in high school. The theme was: “How can I be used in the kingdom of God?” The day after she returned home, she was sitting in the garden, thinking about the theme, when it came to her. “I should be a pastor,” she thought. “What did I just think? It was a very concrete moment,” she said, adding, that her call has been matured before and after that moment.
When Ragnhild told her mother about her experience, she responded, “Of course, Ragnhild, this is who you are.” Her friends and family supported her, sensing this calling as “natural.” But Ragnhild’s own parish pastor was actually against the idea of women pastors and voiced his opposition to her.
Sad. But not uncommon, even in traditions that ordain women.
When I met Pastor Jepsen, she was representing the country of Norway at conferences in Jordan at Bethany-Beyond-The-Jordan Baptism Site. Along with a contingency of European representatives, Jepsen also attended the interfaith dialogue meetings, which included a united concern and helpful dialog about how to address the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis.
Pastor Ragnhild Jepsen is also a dean in the Church of Norway, pastoring at the Gothic-style Nidaros Cathedral in Tronheim, Norway. It is the burial site of “St. Olaf,” King Olav II (995-1030) who is remembered for initiating Christianity in Norway. It is an epic story and a spectacular memorial to the great Norwegian king.
Since 2011, the Church of Norway has its first woman presiding Bishop, Helga Haugland Byfuglien. Currently four of the countries 12 bishops are women and 30% of the clergy are women.