June 29, 2007
Kathy Olson ordained as an elder in the United Methodist Church
The campus pastor and director of church relations at Morningside College was ordained as an elder on June 10 at the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in Ames.
Kathy Olson, 58, was ordained after working for more than a decade to complete her education, to fulfill the three-year probationary period for pastoral candidates, and to receive approval from United Methodist Church leaders.
As an elder, she is now able to carry out all types of ministry in the church, including the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion.
Olson has been campus pastor and director of church relations at Morningside since the summer of 2005.
Her ordination was approved by the Board of Ordained Ministry on March 12 and then by the Order of Elders and Deacons at the state conference June 6-10. She was ordained on the last day of the conference.
“When I first began the journey toward ordained ministry, I thought that when I finally got to that place, there’d be this incredible whoosh of emotion,” the lifelong Sioux City resident said.
“But that’s not what I really experienced,” she continued. “Instead, I’d describe it as a feeling of great joy, not the kind you get when your team is winning at a sporting event, but more the kind of quiet joy you experience when you become a grandmother. And I felt grateful – very grateful for the experiences that I had along the journey, and for the encouragement of family, friends, teachers, and mentors.”
Olson said she first thought of becoming a pastor in her mid-30s but put off the idea because she wasn’t sure she could live up to the standards of ordained ministry. However, she said there were so many signs that this was what God wanted her to do that in her mid-40s, she took action to become an elder in the United Methodist Church.
She had previously completed a year-and-a-half of coursework at Iowa State University, but she needed a bachelor’s degree to go to seminary. So while working as an administrative secretary for Woodbury County Juvenile Court Services, she took classes first at Western Iowa Tech Community College and then at Morningside College.
Olson eventually quit her job to go to Morningside full time, earning her bachelor’s degree in December 1999. She spent the next three-and-a-half years commuting to Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Mo.
She said as soon as she decided to answer God’s call to become an ordained minister and started taking classes at WIT, she began meeting about once a year with the Board of Ordained Ministry.
She said board members talked with her at first to determine if this was truly her calling. Later she was asked to do some writing about herself and her understanding of God and the United Methodist Church.
She also submitted school transcripts and underwent both physical and psychological evaluations.
“They’re pretty careful, and I’m glad,” she said.
While still in seminary, Olson became the part-time pastor at Danbury United Methodist Church in Danbury, Iowa. She earned her Master of Divinity degree in 2003 and continued serving in Danbury for another year. She said she then felt called to minister at Morningside College at the same time the pastor there felt called to return to a church.
“In the process of being a non-traditional student, I discovered that I really enjoy being with and working with young adults,” she said. “So as I prayed for discernment about where I thought God might be leading me to serve, Morningside came first to mind.”
Colleagues from Morningside College attending her ordination included Terri Curry, vice president for student life and enrollment; Robbie Rohlena, dean of enrollment; Dr. Bruce Forbes, professor and chair of religious studies; and Gene Ambroson, director of alumni relations.