Book Review on “This Odd and Wondrous calling”

Read This Odd and Wondrous Calling and recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about the lives of people in gospel ministry. I can best describe this book as a collection of short stories, stylistically like an oral history. These stories are the stories of two ministers, a man and a woman. These ministers are pastors in the United Church of Christ tradition. The book is broken up, first Lillian Daniel tells her story, then Martian Copenhaver tells his story. Each story is short, covering an experience in seminary, or a piece of home life, or a bit of the pastoral workload. Each expresses challenges and joy of ministry.

This book is difficult to classify as it does not have an overarching message, as far as I can find. It does not have a clear order — it is simply a collection of antidotes about being a pastor, a spouse, a parent, and an adult child. This collection of personal stories is valuable though in that the reader gets to see that a pastor is as human as the rest of the congregation — with struggles, personal failings, fears, and joys. Martin tells of a time when he is in the hospital, and his doctor advises him to spend more time in prayer. Lillian tells of her work as an intern chaplain, and how people rejected her as a “girl” when she was trying to offer pastoral ministry. Both tell stories of spouses who are not called into pastorate, yet sacrifice their professional lives out of love for the other.

Any who wants to know what it is like to be a pastor should read this book.


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