O’Fallon Township High School 2006 graduate Miriam Foltz was ordained and installed as a Teaching Elder or Minister in the Presbyterian Church USA on Thursday, March 5, at First United Presbyterian Church in Belleville.
Foltz said she is the organizing pastor of UKirk–St. Louis, a faith community of and for students at Washington University in St. Louis and St. Louis University. UKirk is an initiative of the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy and 1001 New Worshiping Communities. For more information about UKirk, go to ukirstl.org.
Proud of Foltz’ diligence, patience and hard work, her mother Stephanie Foltz said, she can’t wait to see what her future holds, as service and faith have been strong tenants of Miriam’s from youth on into adulthood.
“(On) July 1, 2010...Miriam was recognized by the O’Fallon community about a fundraiser she was holding to support a year as a Young Adult Volunteer to Belfast, Northern Ireland,” Stephanie said. “Miriam wants to see the ministry of the college students on those two campuses she’s involved with to grow. Providing a fellowship to be able to reach the students and act as a force for them when studying the Bible is very important to her, as well as to offer the students opportunities to serve and spread awareness.”
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According to the recent statistics provided by the Presbyterian Church of America, the PCA had 367,033 members in 1,808 congregations served by 4,416 ordained ministers in 2013. Total membership grew by 3,014; the number of congregations also increased by 31 since 2012.
Ordaining women in the PCA hasn’t always been welcomed, but Miriam said that hasn’t thwarted her desires for ordination.
“My call to ministry has been ever growing throughout my life. First it began all the way back in high school really with my love of music in choir and marching band at OTHS,” she said. “In O’Fallon and really through all of my endeavors and the community surrounding me allowed for my love of learning to be nurtured. My Aunt Miriam, who’s also a minister, and Minister Liz Kanerva both were very influential and acted as religious role models and remain so by going above and beyond to live out their faith and pastoral identities without fear of limitations imposed on them due to gender.”
Kanerva currently serves at Glenndale Presbyterian Church in St. Louis.
“Definitely part of my ordination journey has been giving thanks for the many women who have come before me in this process and simply, the women who early on who believed in their call and really held tight to the faith pulling them to their own ordination journey, so that any opposition women face today is not based on gender,” Miriam explained.
Through studying, conversations, experiences and college—oh, don’t forget contemplation—Miriam said her ideas about her own destiny as a minister continued to take shape.
“Through college and my own campus ministry, my call to serve was truly developed and transformed, and that journey continued through seminary by means of opportunities and internships, even inside and outside the classroom,” Miriam said. “The chances to grow and think, as well as to grow into maturity and my own understanding of what it means to be a Presbyterian minister and to be the church were plentiful.”
To shed light on what sets Presbyterians apart from other denominations, Miriam put it in her own words, “rooted in the traditions of John Calvin and John Knox and the Scottish Presbyterian church, the time line begins, but theologically speaking we are reformed and ever reforming. Ultimately, we aim to live a life of grace and gratitude—recognizing it, celebrating it and responding to the grace of God with gratitude by proclaiming God’s love and seeking to share it with others.”
“Friends of mine who’ve I’ve kept in touch with since graduating, as well as the O’Fallon community in general have been incredibly supportive of my love of learning and my desire to learn more about the world and what it means to be a person of faith in the 21st century,” Miriam added.