Just as she had done for the past four years as administrative assistant in the Blue River District, Pam Savery filled out forms this spring that officially put pastors in their new assignments.
But unlike previous years, Savery entered her own name as a three-quarter time pastor in the three-point charge of Hallam, Martell and Roca, Nebraska.
“It was kind of surreal,” Savery said of the paperwork. “It was kind of a reality check that this was actually happening.”
“It’s been kind of strange, but kind of fun,” she added. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
The 67-year-old, who has resigned from her position in the Blue River office, enters the ministry after about 20 years of discernment.
The granddaughter of an Evangelical United Brethren pastor — who came to North America from England in 1911 as a missionary to Canada — the Lincoln native spent most of her time attending Southminster United Methodist Church, now part of Lincoln New Visions UMC.
About 20 years ago, the pastor was developing health problems, and Savery thought she could help out, so she took a lay speaking class over a weekend in Grand Island.
“I thought maybe if I did that I could lead worship if she was unable to,” said Savery, who has since taken several Lay Servant Ministry classes. “I really enjoyed the process of preparing to speak and getting a message together and all of the elements of worship. I always noticed when people put things together and how they flowed together. It’s just something I thought I could do.”
Savery became more involved in her church while feeling increasingly dissatisfied in her occupations. After a long career in the graphic design and printing industry, with some work in public relations, she worked for seven years for the immigration office in Lincoln, handling refugee files.
“My compassion kicked in when I would read their stories,” she said. “Every immigrant who comes into the United States has a persecution story. I don’t think 3-year-olds should have persecution stories.”
A friend told her that the district office in Lincoln was looking for an administrative assistant to the Rev. Bill Ritter, who was serving as the district superintendent at the time, and Savery applied for the job.
“I sent my resumé off at midnight and got a call from Bill Ritter at 10:30 in the morning, and I talked to him at 2 in the afternoon,” Savery said of her administrative assistant role, which she began in October 2014. “I found this to be the most satisfying job I’ve ever had.”
Ritter, who retired at the end of June, said he saw something special in Savery when she dealt with people coming to the Blue River office.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Pam talk and even pray with people who come into the office to see me or to complain about something. They never get to me because they don’t get past Pam,” Ritter said.
“She took so much time with each and every person, either over the phone or in person,” he added. “I started realizing her real gifts were not as an administrative assistant. She needed to be a pastor.”
Ritter said he had been encouraging Savery to be a pastor for at least three years, and she had turned down the suggestion.
Part of the reason was that she was caring for her ailing father, who died in November at the age of 101.
“It was a very hard transition,” she said. “I was exhausted because I had cared for my dad for a while.”
When Ritter approached her again in March about a position, she agreed.
“She has a real commitment to Christ. She has a strong sense of calling,” including her church involvement, Ritter said. “She has a great heart and compassion for other people. She has an evangelistic zeal of wanting more people to be a part of a church family.”
Savery said family history favors her making ministry an extended career — her grandfather was a pastor until he was 81 years old.
“Most of my friends are retiring, and I’m starting a new career,” she said with a laugh.
Savery said every chapter of her life has prepared her for where she is now.
“The teachings of Christ inform my life. That’s the main thing I’ve come to realize in and out of church, that what Jesus teaches brings out the best outcome between people on this earth,” Savery said.
“People were created for a kind of love that a lot of people don’t even recognize in their lives. We were created to love each other and care for each other,” she added. “If we can tap into that through Christ, life gets a lot better.”
Contact David Burke, communications content specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.