It’s hard enough to manage dating in the Digital Age without adding the complication of “by the way, I’m a pastor.” Many of my single clergy friends have shared stories of romances cut short and strange assumptions made when their date discovered their vocation. One single United Methodist deacon said, “It’s not like I’m always walking around with a steeple on my head!” The bachelors in today’s comic strip are each based on stories told by actual clergy date fails.
I thought Jarena Lee was the perfect person from Church History to tell this tale (PS: I always portray Jarena Lee as Beyoncé). Ms. Lee was a widow with two children, who had long experienced a powerful call to ministry. Richard Allen, the founder of the first black church in America, authorized Jarena Lee to preach, making her the first female preacher authorized in America. She was also the first African American woman to publish an autobiography in America. Girl was all sorts of empowered, and she paved the way for women in ministry and writing in America. If that does not impress you, please think about the reality that this woman travelled over 2,000 miles a year before cars, preached over 170 sermons a year before microphones, and did all of this as an African-American woman before the Civil War. My seven year old daughter did a report on Jarena Lee for her first grade project this year, and I’m just glowing proud!
In real life, Jarena Lee did not date anyone after she began preaching, but her story of confidence in Christ in the face of great adversity is an encouragement to us all. May you approach the throne of God with confidence that Christ has called you, Christ makes you worthy, and if things don’t work out for you on Christian Mingle, don’t pay them any attention.