In recognition of the 45th anniversary of Women’s Ordination in Canada, this series is offered in celebration of all women in ministry.
Hello, I’m Katherine Gohm and I currently serve Redeemer, London, ON. My first call was to St. Stephen, Kitchener, ON. Later,
I served as pastor to St. Matthews, Kitchener, ON. I also did a five-year stretch as Director of Public Policy and Service Ministries, Eastern Synod.
What were your earliest experiences in ministry?
I have had good experiences in ministry, getting to know each congregation, forming close connections. I particularly appreciated the women’s retreats in my early days of ministry. Spending time worshipping and learning, playing Pictionary, eating meals and doing crafts together formed lasting memories and relationships.
On one retreat a group of us went for a walk along a trail not far from the retreat centre. In the beauty of nature, in good company, and with misguided advice from a passerby, we got completely lost. Making matters worse, a thunderstorm quickly approached.
Finding shelter at an abandoned train station, two of us hitchhiked back to the retreat centre while the rest remained. With rain pounding the windshield of my borrowed minivan, windows fogging, and taking illegal U-turns, I made it back to the train station to collect the women. Retelling the story that evening, they joked that I had rescued my “flock.” We really had a lot of fun.
What have been the joys and challenges of your ministry?
I am fortunate to be able to walk alongside people; to share in their celebrations and their sorrows. As church, at our best, we are graced with community that upholds and cares for those moments in life. With joy, I have seen us move further into expressing the beauty of God’s brilliant diversity in the world and in the body of Christ. I have seen us “welcome the stranger” to make new lives here. I have seen the table extended.
Ministry, and life in general, has changed drastically for all with COVID-19. The pandemic brought initial challenges on how to care for one another when we could no longer gather physically. We also face other challenges as shifts occur in our culture, technologies and demographics, with a sometimes anxious, sometimes relieved, letting go of and refocusing our work. However, with those challenges, a fresh wind of opportunity moves us in creative ways to do ministry.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future of the church?
As I write, the women of Afghanistan have been told to stay home from work, the pandemic has further exacerbated economic disparities between women and men (economic stressors adding to already alarming domestic abuse statistics). There are concerns over the state of mental health increase and our climate is no longer changing but in crisis.
Despite all we face, my hope is that we continue to be present for one another and the world made good by God. New forms of being church are emerging as community partnerships unfold, as mission gets adjusted to new realities, as we move beyond walls of comfort. My dream is that we continue to be those very life-giving images we know by heart: to be the yeast kneaded so the dough will rise, to be the woman who sweeps until what is lost is found, to be the widow who nevertheless persists in her just cause. —Rev. Katherine Gohm