Episode 8: How to Persevere through Threat, Heartache, & Decline with Fran Cooper
In episode 8, the Rev. Frances Cooper, elder of 29 years in the United Methodist Church, pastor of St. Marks UMC in Midlothian, VA, and one of the first and few women in Virginia to lead a large church, shares honestly about a soul-crushing first pastoral appointment, the threat of the call on her marriage, the long road of being figured out, the shifting tides of the church, and the difficulties, perceptions, adjustments, competition, crutches, desperation, and dismantling involved in being a woman in ministry today.
Fran knows well the beauty and the brutal reality of being a woman in ministry. Besides being a full time pastor, she is also a wife (part of a clergy couple), a mom, a "mimi", a sister, a daughter, and friend. She considers herself a lover of preaching and worship, a celebrator of the gifts of Christ in other people, and a planter of God's word, "flowering gardens and food memories" wherever she goes.
It is also no small thing that she happens to be the aunt of collared chick co-creator Michelle Matthews, who says, "Fran is the reason why I am in ministry today. It was only after I witnessed her preach and preside with both grace and conviction that I begin to believe God had called me to this task as well. If I am half the pastor she is, I would consider myself blessed to have served God so ferociously."