In God we live, move and have our being; even as some of your own poets have said, “For we too are his offspring.”  Acts 17:28

Voices of Possibility   
Voices that Matter

Good news. Gospel. New life. That’s what it feels like to be affirmed as worthy and valuable.

When someone gives you a vision for your future that resonates in you, it feels as if you have been given a gift. The gift is you, now freed to pursue a life of meaning and purpose. You are a gift for the sake of the world.

Throughout my life, I have benefitted from others pushing the doors open a little wider for me. In 1972, federal legislation requiring schools to offer equal opportunities for girls—Title IX—was passed. This  changed the landscape for girls when it came to sports, opening doors to pursue the dream of becoming an athlete. As one of a handful of women in the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame, I am remembered by many as one of the first recognized female athletes in state history.

Along the way, men and women alike have empowered me, giving me a platform to embody someone whose voice matters. Sports propelled me to dare to enter into many arenas traditionally dominated by men. Through sports, news reporting, entrepreneurship, public speaking, broadcasting and coaching, I have developed a voice of possibility for others. 

I had never seen a woman pastor until my early 30s; I didn’t even know women could be pastors! As of 2015, 35% of ordained clergy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are women, yet there are many in the world who have not seen a woman preacher.

Jesus Christ has come into the world to reconcile our past, be with us in our present, and give us hope and a future with God forever. This assurance enables us to live into the life Christ modeled—a life of love, justice and peace. As a candidate approved for ordained ministry in the ELCA, I am ready, willing and able to preach the Good News for all people! 

Led by the Spirit, I intend to enter the traditionally male-dominated world of ministry, strong in faith, strategic in approach, and with the same energy, enthusiasm, and resolve that I have approached other callings in my life. It is my prayer that through the preached word, others will hear God’s call specifically for them. It is my hope  that just as other women have joined the ranks in sports, business, politics and broadcasting, they will also become more engaged in using their God-given gifts.

Narratives are powerful. They are the stories that open up possibilities, spark imagination, and give courage to those whose voices are often overlooked. 

I am interested in hearing the multitude of voices and stories of women who are willing to share how God has spoken to them, as well as to hear how their experiences have shaped them. What role did mentors serve in their journey? As a woman pursuing ordained ministry, I am curious about what they will say about how to live a faithful and authentic life as a woman in ministry. 

The ultimate goal of this project is to produce a documentary about women in various parts of the world who currently serve in positions of leadership, both within and outside of the church. Sarah Browne, a professional photographer/filmmaker, will accompany me for the purposes of capturing the voices of women who have navigated a patriarchal system with grace.

Using a qualitative methodology, I will identify common themes in the narratives of bishops, pastors, and theologians who are women: What led them to pursue their call? How did they identify their call? What influences in their lives either supported or detracted from their pursuit of this call? Were there any cultural influences at work? 

Jesus came so that the world could live an abundant life, with grace upon grace. Ever since I experienced the power of the Gospel I’ve lived my life differently. Grounded in the power of Christian hope that comes through Christ, I live each day into the extravagant abundance of God’s unfailing love and readiness to forgive. God knows me, and loves me! This is an unchanging promise, powerful enough to break through poverty, sexism, and other forms of oppression. My hope for this project is that it will serve to strengthen others’ sense of call, fortify their voices, and empower them to live more fully into a life of service to God and the neighbor. 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a game changer!

- Janet Karvonen-Montgomery