Carol Shimmin Nordstrom
Retired in January 2016 from full-time ministry
Ordained: June 1978
I knew that God had called me to full-time Christian ministry. When God calls, you do not say no.
My journey reflects a path of twists and turns, unexpected opportunities, and some disappointments. I sensed that God was calling me to serve while I was at Covenant Park Bible Camp in Mahtowa, Minnesota. When I started seminary in 1973, I was planning to earn a master’s of divinity degree so I could enter graduate school and earn a doctorate in New Testament. The opportunity arose to serve as pastor in South Haven, Minnesota, for my seminary internship. Once I began serving as pastor, I knew this was part of my call from God.
I earned my MDiv at Bethel Theological Seminary in May 1976—the first woman to earn that degree from Bethel. On the agenda of the Covenant Annual Meeting that year was a recommendation from the Board of Ministry to ordain women, and I was there as a delegate from my home congregation. When the vote was taken, Glenn Anderson, then dean of North Park Seminary, approached me and said that he looked forward to having me in Chicago in the fall for orientation to Covenant ministry. I knew then that I wouldn’t have to change denominations in order to be an ordained minister.
When I finished orientation at North Park, I was called by the Evangelical Covenant Church in Calgary, Alberta, to serve as minister of youth and community. In 1979, while teaching at Covenant Bible College in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, I met Craig Nordstrom, a seminarian who was doing an internship at CBC. Although not everyone in the denomination was sure women should be ordained, he was willing to date and marry a woman who was already ordained! We were married in June 1980. Craig has been my ongoing supporter as I have sensed God calling me to serve.
Over the years I have served as pastor or on staff at Covenant churches in the United States and Canada. The last congregation I pastored was Salem United Church of Christ near my home in Wanatah, Indiana, an old German Pietistic congregation of the Evangelical North American Synod before it became part of the merger forming the United Church of Christ. When I announced my retirement from full-time pastoral ministry, the congregation, individually and as a whole, pleaded with me to reconsider and to stay until I was at least eighty!
Challenges and opportunities have been plentiful throughout forty years of pastoral ministry. Covenant churches willing to call a woman as pastor have, at times, been few. Continuing to know that God has called me to ministry and finding a place for service has not always been easy. Finding call(s) for a clergy couple in the early 1980s was difficult.
Each Monday morning during my internship, Paul Johnson, associate superintendent of the Northwest Conference, would call me to learn what had happened at my congregation over the weekend. No matter how discouraged I felt because not everyone there believed I should be the pastor, he encouraged me to for my whole internship. His weekly calls and prayers helped me to realize that, indeed, God had called me to pastoral ministry.
Quirkiest item in my office:
Hootie is an owl puppet used for children’s lessons. He has been with me at several churches and finally stayed at Salem UCC when I retired. Several of the young children would routinely come into my office—not necessarily want to see me, they wanted to pet Hootie.
First live concert:
Duluth Symphony Orchestra in high school.
If I were in a talent show I would:
Play an accordion solo or accompany my husband on the accordion while he sang an old Swedish song.