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I t is said with God there are no coincidences, so I will say it is amazing that I am writing this within two weeks of celebrating my 15th year anniversary in the Reformed Church in America (RCA) where I have been a member of Marble Collegiate Church. I initially observed an online service the Sunday before Palm Sunday 2009 to see if, as an Afro American woman, the church would be a good fit for me. I was totally unaware of the historical reputation of the church. 

On that first Sunday, I happened to see an African American female minister, adorned with long dreads, on the chancel. Needless to say, I attended a worship service the following Palm Sunday and have been at Marble ever since. Additionally, having since received my master’s in Pastoral Care and Counseling, I am a member of the Lay Worship Leadership Team and was honored to be the one on the chancel the Sunday before Palm Sunday of this year, 2024. God has indeed been at work in my life.

I craved having “spiritual security” in a supportive church family like the kind my friends had. I prayed for God to make a way for me to strengthen my biblical knowledge that would deepen my faith to commit my latter chapter of my life to. I believe that God has always been with me and always will be. God knows all and hears all before we make our desires known to the world. 

God delivered me into a community of faithful servants these past 15 years. Through the RCA, I have gone on Sankofa trips to Alabama and upstate New York; mission trips to Palermo, Italy, and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands; and a sojourn to Israel and Palestine. With discernment, encouragement, and support, I completed my own seminary studies, which included an introduction to chaplaincy, in which I am continuing education and training, pursuing CPSP certification.

In times like these, when other church organizations are banning women from the pulpit, I appreciate being part of my spiritual, hospitable, and diverse congregation that propels me to serve a denomination that chooses to explore equity and justice for all and celebrates the gifts and calling of women. I am thankful for my journey and grateful for the encouragement of everyone who has supported me along the way. The road has not been easy, but God has made it all possible.

Patricia Johnson

Patricia (Pat) Johnson, MAPCC, is a native New Yorker who has recently relocated to New Jersey. She is a member of Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan where she serves as a Stephen Leader on the Stephen Ministry Team, as well as on the Lay Worship Leadership Team. In past years, she has served in other hospitality and leadership roles throughout the church. Pat is a 2023 graduate of New Brunswick Theological Seminary (NBTS) with an MA in Pastoral Care and Counseling. She is currently a chaplain intern in the Hackensack Meridian Health Network in New Jersey. Pat is the proud mother of three grown children who live in New York.