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Mamie McIndoe discerned it was time to accept the invitation to be a deacon at Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, where she has been a member since the 1990s. Mamie served in many ways over the years at Marble—missions and outreach, hospitality, children and youth ministries, development—including six years on staff, but hadn’t served on the consistory. Now, with more time opening up in retirement, she needed to pray and discern if this was indeed the time to bring her gifts and experience to the leadership of the church in this season. Here’s the story in her own words.

F or years, I worked in the New York City public healthcare system as an associate director of patient experience, primarily serving the uninsured and undocumented. I was at Elmhurst Hospital during the pandemic, which was a very different career experience than others. I went to work each day and supported our clinical staff to save as many lives as possible.

Related: Listen to Mamie’s candid COVID-19 story

A few years ago, I knew I was coming up on retirement—a word I don’t really like to use—and that change was coming. I’m used to being busy. I’m a do-er and get involved. Looking at this next chapter, I didn’t quite know what to do. I raised a daughter, and I had had this experience in healthcare. I knew I wasn’t finished; there was more that I wanted to do. But I needed to figure out “Mamie,” to take this unique time in my life to look at myself.

The church came to me and asked if I’d be willing to serve on consistory. Marble is one of the most important things in my life. But I didn’t want to get overly involved right away, just beginning my retirement. The church was also experiencing a time of change, of need. So I said, “Let me discern and think about it.” For me to say that was big. Usually I volunteer and raise my hand right away.

I had been on staff at Marble about 15 years ago, doing stewardship, planned giving, and benevolence. I knew what it was like to work for a church. I knew the needs of the congregation, the staff, and the world. That fed into my discernment as well. Was I in a position to take this on and be more than just an attendee on Sunday? That’s a big decision point for anyone really, especially for women who tend to be do-ers. I have to watch my boundaries to make sure I don’t get over involved. 

I prayed, had quiet time, and asked God to lead me. And I was very present at church. It’s important to come, participate, stretch yourself, get to know people. From that, you can find out where the need is. I was purposeful in this being a time to listen and see, to ask, “Where is the call?” There’s always all kinds of things that need to be done. But I had to stand back and see what I could do—and to speak with truth and honesty. 

The answer soon became clear and God said yes. I can put my energy anywhere; of course I’ll put it to one of the most important places in my life. That’s how I came to be a deacon, to be a leader in my church.

About a month after being ordained as a deacon, I was diagnosed with cancer. Now I had to ask: how do I deal with my health and life and keep these balls in the air? I’m still so new at being a deacon, and now there are additional things I need to do to take care of myself. But so far, I have kept my commitments. 

Even still, I am asking: where can I best be used at this time in my life? What’s the best use of my gifts? Where does God want me? You always have to be listening and trying to understand where God needs you.

Mamie McIndoe

Mamie McIndoe serves as a deacon at Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, where she lives. Mamie has also been on the board of Housing Plus for 20 years. She tirelessly supports the needs of the formerly undomiciled and incarcerated women and their children. During her career, she served as associate director of patient experience in the New York public healthcare system. Mamie has helped nonprofits and for-profits to grow, expand, and fulfill their missions. She currently conducts trainings and consults in leadership and communication.