For Mary Beth Boesch (MDiv, 2021), discovering and accepting her calling to lead pastoral ministry has been a journey of overcoming ambiguity, fears, and misconceptions.
For Matt Rundio (DMin, 2016), God has been developing his ministry calling from full-time pastoral leadership to family and marriage therapy.
Their divergent journeys neatly dovetailed, beginning in 2019, through a professional mentoring relationship that led to Boesch joining Rundio as co-lead pastor at Scottsdale First Church of the Nazarene. This past July, he stepped back to an associate role, handing the reins to Boesch as his lead pastor.
‘No’ to the call – then ‘yes’
Boesch was new to the church and just 16 when she gave her life to Jesus Christ.
“Over the course of the next year and a half, I felt called into ministry four times (and I said ‘No’ the first three times),” Boesch recalled. “I tried to run from my call because I was a brand new Christian. I did not even know the basic stories in Scripture, and I knew nothing about theology. I also had been attending a church that firmly taught women cannot be pastors, so the idea that I was called into ministry terrified me; I thought answering this call would mean I would be ‘sinning.’”
One week before starting as a freshman education student at an Ohio university, her financial aid fell through. A friend who prayed with her about the crisis suggested God had closed the door because He wanted her in ministry.
“I finally said ‘yes.’ But I had no idea that women could be pastors, so I had no idea what pursuing this call meant,” she recalls.
Clarifying the call through education
Boesch enrolled at Mount Vernon Nazarene University in the spring of 2011 to study theology alongside her degree in Christian Education and Psychology. She hoped studying theology would bring answers.
Boesch graduated in 2014, still unclear about the specific shape of God’s call. It started coming into focus in 2016 when she accepted a youth pastor position at an Arizona church.
While serving, she felt pulled toward deeper theological and practical ministry training. Enrolling at Nazarene Theological Seminary (NTS) in 2017 was a decision she never questioned.
“I wanted to go to NTS for the theology, the faculty, and the students …. and continue my education from a Wesleyan perspective.”
Boesch was in the pioneer cohort of Convene, which launched that year. Convene is a one-week, immersive learning experience hosted at the NTS campus each fall.
“My professors and my cohort made me feel seen, heard, validated, and valued. Sitting in that classroom, I felt for the first time that maybe God really was calling me into pastoral ministry—but more importantly, I felt for the first time that I was not alone.”
Although Boesch graduated this May, NTS introduced her to friends who continue providing daily community beyond the degree program.
“We have a group chat and we talk almost every day,” she said.
NTS also helped clarify and affirm her calling, challenged her, and drew her outside her comfort zones.
“I was challenged and mentored by my professors and by the authors of my textbooks. My underlying assumptions were consistently challenged, deconstructed, and reconstructed. I am so thankful that this was my experience! I did not want a seminary that was going to allow me to stay intellectually or theologically comfortable – I wanted to come out changed as a person and better equipped as a minister.”
Finding their place
When her lead pastor introduced her to Pastor Matt Rundio at Scottsdale First Church of the Nazarene, her ministry path took a turn.
Rundio, who also studied at NTS, is a faculty advisor in the Doctor of Ministry program, in which he coaches and supports people through the DMin process. He agreed to tutor Boesch in her Greek.
They began meeting for professional mentoring in early 2019. An advocate for women in ministry, Rundio invited her to preach at First Church on Easter Sunday.
At the same time, Boesch sensed God releasing her from her associate pastor position in order to pursue a lead pastor role. Praying with her pastor and Rundio, the three discerned God leading Boesch to an interim staff role at First Church while she searched for a church to pastor.
“A few months into serving there, Matt … shared with me that he had started a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, and that he thought he might eventually leave pastoral ministry to pursue a career in counseling. He asked me if I might ever be interested in possibly taking over as lead pastor at Scottsdale First if he chose to pursue this. And I said ‘yes.’”
The two developed a transition plan, in which Boesch would join Rundio as a co-lead pastor in 2019. Over the next two years, Rundio would gradually step back to be associate pastor and Boesch would assume the lead pastor role.
“A few years ago, I began to feel a strong pull to sharpen my counseling skills,” Rundio said. “The more I learned, the more I felt like this was going to be the next thing for me. I began to feel released from vocational pastoral ministry.”
“Mary Beth assuming the leadership at our church seemed so natural: she is called, gifted, and loved at our church. She loves and knows our local church culture. I saw a gifted and called person in Mary Beth. I wanted to get out of the way.”
On July 5, 2021, the transition was complete, with Boesch welcomed into senior pastoral leadership at Scottsdale First Church.
“We are currently in the midst of a lot of transition,” Boesch acknowledged. “We are still in the midst of a global pandemic; we are in the middle of a pastoral transition; and we are on the cusp of starting a building project after selling some land. Even a good transition comes with anxiety!”
“The beauty of this congregation is that we have the courage to name the anxiety for what it is, and we have the boldness to proclaim that there is so much hope even in the midst of transition. God continues to be faithful in, with, and through this congregation.”
Learn more about studying at NTS at www.nts.edu/info.