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Learning theology from my mother

Preacher’s kid embraced a life of faith after watching his mother inhabit Christ’s ‘wide-open love’

by Mark Power, Theological Education Fund representative | Special to Presbyterian News Service

The author, Mark Power, is pictured with his late mother, the Rev. Lee Power. (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — I was always proud to be a preacher’s kid. Growing up in Arkansas and Texas, it surprised many people when I told them my mother was the preacher, not my father. These types of exchanges certainly came with many puzzled looks.

As many do, I think about my mom’s legacy and love for her family around Mother’s Day. I often recall the theology I learned from my mother, especially because she was called into ministry. Many of us learn a type of faith or theology from our mothers. When your mother is a pastor, it’s all the more true. It was her life’s work to serve the church, and we observed her work on Sundays and throughout the week. It was not only what she told us and how she talked to us about faith, but how she lived that helped us experience God.

My mother, Lee Power, was a pioneer for women in the ministry. After graduating from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1981, she served six churches in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Each church presented my mother with many wonderful opportunities, but also several challenges. My mother always led a church with grace and peace, persevered throughout her entire career — and inspired many men and women to seek a career in the ministry as well.

Our family learned so much from her life and ministry. Her personal theology was built around forgiveness, openness and honesty, as well as acceptance of all people. She believed in Christ’s wide-open love and lived it daily. She was kind and had a generous spirit, living out the gospel in her daily life.

My mother taught our family to put faith and family first. After she retired from Trinity Presbyterian Church in Bixby, Okla., she moved to Fayetteville, Ark., to be close to my brother and me. It wasn’t long after she relocated that she was asked to serve as a parish associate at First United Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville. She was also called upon by other churches in northwest Arkansas to serve while they searched for a new pastor or needed pastoral assistance. This really opened my eyes to the needs of churches for pastors and the growing shortage that’s on the horizon.

In 2013, my mother was diagnosed with a liver disease called NASH. She moved to an assisted living facility in Austin, Texas, for better medical care and to be closer to my sister. While at the assisted living facility, she was once again called upon to preach at the facility for its residents. She loved doing this and was preaching all the way up to the end. She died on Dec. 31, 2015.

My mother helped create a scholarship through First United Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville to encourage future seminarians and provide them financial assistance. She certainly understood this need. I have chosen to support the Theological Education Fund in hopes that my efforts will help raise more funds for future ministers on a larger scale. The Theological Education Fund team is an amazing group of professionals dedicated to making a difference. The future is upon us and it’s exciting to be a part of this effort.

Mark Power serves as a Theological Education Fund representative, housed at the Presbyterian Foundation. He works in the South Central region which includes Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, and the western part Nebraska. He is the Vice Chancellor for University Advancement at the University of Arkansas and ruling elder at First United Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville, Ark. 

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