Andover resident's appoitment fulfills her life calling to serve God

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:52

    The Port Morris United Methodist Church has a new minister. Not such big news for a church that since its inception in 1869 has seen many pastors lead the congregation based in Landing. News of the appointment, however, came as a big surprise to the new minister, Pastor Judy Todt. The Port Morris Church will be Pastor Todt's first appointment since becoming a Methodist minister, fulfilling a dream that started more than four decades ago. "I was very surprised and excited. I never thought I'd get assigned to a church so quickly. I thought it would be at least another year," said Todt. Todt's appointment to her own church may be new but her desire to serve in the ministry dates back to her years as a teenager. During her youth, Todt was actively involved in the church in one way or another, albeit Sunday School, Methodist Youth Fellowship, teaching Sunday School, counselor for the Youth Fellowship, choir. "You name it, I was involved in it. All my interests and activities revolved around the church, rather than school activities," said Todt during a recent interview. She remembers getting the calling to serve God and the church at age 17, while still in high school. "I wanted to go into Pastoral Ministry at a time when women in the pulpit were not widely accepted," said Todt, who recalled discussing this with her minister and receiving no support from him or the church in general. "Basically he told me that there was no place for me in the ministry." Eventually Todt married and took her place in the world of business management. She and husband Carl enjoy their life in their home in Andover and travel extensively. She still kept active in the church; her involvement ran from one end of the spectrum to the other. Nine years ago she attended services at the Stanhope United Methodist Church for the first time and again she said she felt that age-old desire to answer God's call in life. At that time the Rev. Nancy Bischoff served as the church's minister proving to Todt that times had certainly changed since she was told there was no place for women in the ministry. "I felt like her sermon was directed at me. It was about God knowing you and meeting you in your faith journey." Eventually, Todt was elected lay leader of the church. Soon after, she decided to become a certified lay speaker, a position that allowed Todt to lead the congregation in the absence of the minister. "I remember being scared to death giving my first sermon. I was always nervous to speak in front of people, to even make an announcement and here I was, giving the sermon," said Todt. A few years later, she decided to take the next step of going into the ministry. Assisted by the present pastor of Stanhope's United Methodist church, the Rev. Harry De Kolf, (she worked for three years fulfilling her lifelong dream. "He has led me through the candidacy process and worked for many, many hours, month after month as my mentor," she said. Todt described her appointment as bittersweet. Leaving the Stanhope Church and the people she had grown so fond of was difficult for her and husband Carl, who is also an active church member. However, getting the Port Morris appointment, her very own church, was exactly what she had worked so hard for and dreamed about all her life. She recalled the night before her first sermon at Port Morris. She expected to feel nervous but instead, she said, she felt a calming sense of peace that remains with her today. "In spite of the fact that God has had to wait 40 years for me to fulfill His call in my life, He has led me on an incredible journey, supplying me with faith and determination. He has given me the right people to serve as spiritual guides and counselors, and a husband who has been so supportive and encouraging every step of the way."