Martha Tidwell sat before me wearing a blue pants suit and a weary face. Four years ago she left her high-paying job as an accountant after having discerned, with her church’s help, that she was called by God to begin the process of becoming a pastor. Her husband, Ted, was supportive and quit his job as well so that they could come to Pittsburgh to begin her studies.
They sold their house at a loss and moved their young family into a seminary apartment. Although they lived frugally with Ted’s new, lower-paying job, they still had to take on considerable debt. Over the next three years Martha devoted herself to theological studies while concurrently progressing through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s lengthy process of discernment. Finally she graduated with honors and was ready to serve as a pastor. All she needed was a parish.