What was whispered between the pews for many years finally came to pass last Sunday when Ellen Peguero took over leadership as senior pastor of the Frank Sound Church of God from her husband Pastor William Peguero.
In a ceremony at the church, filled by more than 100 well-wishers, Mrs. Peguero, a homemaker and mother, was installed as senior pastor after being sent there with her husband as temporary pastoral replacements from the Bodden Town Church of God 12 years ago.
Her installation also makes history within the Church of God Chapel congregation in the Cayman Islands, since she is the first Caymanian woman to take up senior pastoral duties at any Church of God Chapel congregation.
“It was a great leap of faith in the 95-year history of the Church,” said Mario Ebanks, chair of General Assembly of the Church of God Chapel.
Long time coming
“It was not a decision that I made on my own but God putting things in motion that got me to this point,” said Pastor Ellen. “I saw it for a long time and my husband always said to me that he believed that I was the one God had called to minister and he did not mind taking the back seat.”
According to Pastor Ellen, even some of her congregation felt the same way.
But these duties did not come easily, she said.
“When I was growing up and anyone had suggested that I would be standing on the pulpit today, I would have laughed louder and harder than Sarah … Abraham’s wife in the Bible … but when the Lord calls, you can run but you can’t hide,” she said.
“I felt that I was not equipped for the call and coming from a small community and all, I felt people who knew me looked at my mistakes, where I had been and this shied me away from God, but now all that is behind me,” she said.
When Pastor Ellen looks back on her upbringing, she says she felt she had very little to offer, though she had become accomplished in businesses, had a nice home and a good family. But she still felt empty inside.
“It was that emptiness that made me wonder,” she said. “I had all the material necessities of life, but I was not satisfied. It was when I realised I was missing a relationship with God that that void was filled.”
For the church
For the church, she believes five primary things need to be recognised:
The church must have a vision, care for people, confront evil wherever it’s found, connect people to Jesus Christ and create environments to reach un-churched people. She also believes in training programmes to develop leadership qualities, particularly among the young people and the way the church views young people.
Bodden Town Church of God Pastor Winston Rose charged Pastor Ellen in her new leadership role in the church to take heed for herself, her family and the flock.
“The best thing she could do for your congregation and the people is deal with your own dysfunctions, deal with your own needs first,” he said. “One of the problems we face in today’s world is gifted and talented people who lack character.”
He charged her to not neglect her family for the church or as a wife. “You are not the head of the household – your husband still is – but you are a key player. We can’t be outside saving the world while our family is going to pieces. In a world where there are so many families in need of help, we as Christians have a great opportunity to be models of family life and one of the greatest things you could do for your congregation is to be a good wife and mother.”
‘Be patient, pray and preach’
He also told her to take head of the flock and to not preach to please man but to please God.
“Study the word, prepare yourself and in so doing then you can prepare the people. Be patient, pray and preach …have patience, for in the ministry that can sometimes become very frustrating.”
He concluded on a lighter note by sharing a humorous twist about the pastor-turned-mortician. “When I was a pastor and people would come with troubles, I would straighten them out and before long they were right back where they were, but when I became a mortician and when I took them out, straighten them out, they stayed straight!”
Premier McKeeva Bush was happy to see the Caymanian pastor take the reins and even happier to see a woman in charge of the church, which he said could open the path for other young women. He shared with the congregation that Pastor Ellen’s counselling and prayers were with him in his time of grief and how her words of comfort had made his dealings much easier.
“These are challenging times for those in leadership positions no matter whether it is in schools, politics, church or teachings at home,” he said, “for the islands are seeing tremendous changes – some good and some not too good – but I believe God has called Sister Ellen for a time such as this because she is brave and courageous.”
It was a Friday at 1.35am when Pastor Ellen knelt on her living room floor and committed her life to the Lord. She called her family together and told them she had made a decision to follow the Lord and needed their support.
Throughout the years, she said, she had many ups and downs and through those times she did not feel and did not behave like a Christian, but the Lord dealt with her and through Christian people in her path she learned to understand Christianity was not a feeling, it was about a commitment.
For the past 12 to 15 years she said, she had no thoughts of going back and was ordained as pastor in 2007.
“I am going to need Him today, tomorrow and the years to come as I answer this call,” she said. “it is a very serious call.”