- Faith & Family
It is not unusual for many future pastors to be hesitant about accepting the call into ministry. In fact, many run from the calling for several years before acquiescing.
For Reverend Constance Cole Bright of New Covenant Presbyterian Church, her attempts to avoid the calling lasted for nearly four decades.
“I received the call to ministry when I was in the seventh grade,” said the 77-year-old minister. “But when I was in the seventh grade I had never met a female minister, so I didn’t think I could do it.”
Although Bright did receive encouragement from those she told about her future calling, the lack of role models caused her to hesitate to commit to the ministry. In the meantime, Bright applied herself to her studies, graduated from college and eventually worked as an educator for the Broward County Public School System for 27 years.
By then Bright finally took to heart the encouraging words that she received and she hastily enrolled in school to study for her master’s in divinity. By day, she would guide her students to make better decisions; by night she herself became an student of the Bible.
“It was challenging because I would be working all day long and then I’d be commuting to and from Miami,” she said.
Yet after waiting so long to pursue her calling, Bright’s passion would not allow her to quit. So, she persisted in her studies. She officially retired from the Broward County Public School system in 1999. A year later, Sunday, July 9th, 2000, she was ordained as a minster.
“It was one of the most joyous days of my life,” she recalled.
Bright served as pastor at two other churches, before being assigned to New Covenant Presbyterian Church in 2005.
Working as a minster, she found that the skills and experiences from her previous career served her well.
“As a teacher and as a counselor, you deal with all kinds of people, so making the transition was not difficult because teaching is as much a part of ministry as preaching,” she said.
But, “one of the greatest challenges was preparing members to assume leadership roles,” she explained. “Leadership in the church is different form being a leader in the secular world and the reason for that is because Jesus Christ is head of the church and he is the model for everything that we do.”
After leading the estimated 80 member-church for seven years, Bright is set to retire from the pastorship at the end of June.
When asked what she enjoyed most about being a pastor, her reply came easily: “I especially enjoy sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with other people because I believe that the most important decision anyone can ever make in life is to choose Jesus as his or her Lord and Savior and if I can facilitate that through my teaching gifts or preaching skills, I welcome the challenge.”
New Covenant Presbyterian Church is located at 4300 NW 12th Avenue in Miami.
By Kaila Heard