First Person

Because of Paul Crow, I’m still a pastor

The ecumenical leader who talked me out of burning my ordination certificate

Paul Crow died on January 23, 2021. Born in the small town of Lanett in eastern Alabama, he became a force in the international ecumenical movement. He served as the ecumenical representative of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) throughout the world. As general secretary of the Con­sultation on Church Union and as president of the Council on Chris­tian Unity, Paul traveled to the World Council of Churches and the Ecumenical Insti­tute at Bossey in Geneva. He had audiences with the pope at the Vatican. His life work and passion was to remind Christians of Jesus’ prayer “that they may be one.”

Because of Paul, I remain a Disciples pastor today. He was there at the right place and the right time to express the ecumenical vision that I needed to hear.

The word ecumenism was not always in my lexicon. I was a farmer’s daughter from the Midwest who violated the teachings of my home church by daring to become clergy. I had heard God say to my 11-year-old soul at church camp that I was to become a pastor. I had responded during the altar call fully aware I would not become a church secretary, singing evangelist, or missionary—the only roles open for women to serve. I would become a pastor. I kept my secret until the doors opened in my 30s to follow this dream to seminary.