A Stunning Experience of Grace

The introduction to Lee Camp’s latest podcast interview with Janet Wolf. Listen HERE.

“I did not go to divinity school to become a pastor,” says Janet Wolf. “I thought clergy were probably the problem and not the solution. I went to figure out how people could read the Bible and not do justice.”

And yet, at the age of 40, after the end of a struggle with the Boards of Ordained Ministry, she found herself ordained in the Methodist Church and sent to pastor four congregations in Lawrence County, Tennessee.

This was no easy task: she was the first female Methodist pastor the county had ever known.

“One of the congregations said they would burn the church down before they would ever let a woman preach from their pulpit. They boycotted our kids on the bus; they called them children of the devil and wouldn’t sit with them; our youngest was starting kindergarten that year, and nobody would sit with him at lunch. And so it was a really harsh experience.”

But, she says, “it was also a stunning experience of grace.”

Over the course of her ministry, Janet has been pushing for justice in the face of misogyny, poverty, racism, and all manner of small odds, reaching the marginalized through both great works of advocacy and small acts of kindness. Under her guidance, she has seen countless communities – from rural churches on the Tennessee-Alabama line to prison inmates on death row – take it upon themselves to care for the poor and hurting, putting “flesh on faith” to bring real, meaningful hope into the lives of those around them.

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