Meet female pastors and ordained women in Northwest Florida as they share what first inspired them to enter the clergy, how they see their role in ministry and what it looks like to be a female pastor.
Editor’s note: This is the fifth part in a series of stories about female pastors and how they inspire their congregations in Northwest Florida.
CRESTVIEW – Joanne Kublik’s call to ministry struck her like a lightning bolt.
She remembers it clearly.
After substitute teaching in the early 2000s, a Presbyterian pastor at her church asked if she had considered going into the commissioned lay pastor program. To her surprise, she’d never heard of it.
“I realized that’s what God had been calling me to do; I just hadn’t realized it because I didn’t know there was such a program,” Kublik said. “It was crazy, because you’re sitting there listening to this man, and all of a sudden, you say, ‘That’s it. That’s exactly what God has been calling me to do.’”
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Kublik has felt called to serve since she was a child – at first in mission work.
Back in those days, though, women didn’t do that sort of work, she said.
“Women were not pastors,” Kublik said. “Women were not deacons or elders or treasurers in the church. They didn’t have any roles, except doing bake sales, secretarial work and teachers. There wasn’t any real support for me to do that. Once I got older, I decided that probably wasn’t the direction I was heading.
“For the next 40 years, I basically ran from the call.”
When she stumbled upon the commissioned lay pastor program, she immediately began jumping through all the hoops required, she said. After being approved by the Presbyterian Church, she took online classes from the University of Dubuque Iowa from 2007 to 2009 and became a commissioned lay pastor through the Presbyterian Church USA.
The first person she called was her father.
“He was very excited for me to do this,” Kublik said. “I think I felt that it would make him very proud to know I had been accepted. My mother is still alive, and she’s always supportive. She loves to come and see me preach.”
In August 2010, Kublik accepted a call as a temporary acting pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Milton. She had only one word to describe how she felt: scared.
“It’s not like you’re going for a teaching degree and you’re in the classroom with another teacher; you’re there by yourself,” Kublik said. “Performing the sacraments, preaching – all of it falls on you. It’s a lot of responsibility.”
Since then, Kublik has never felt more in place.
She spent 5 1/2 years serving First Presbyterian Church of Milton and then three years at First Presbyterian Church of DeFuniak Springs. Since then, she has served on committees at her home church, the First Presbyterian Church of Crestview, and as pulpit supply in Crestview, Laurel Hill, Fort Walton Beach and Gulf Breeze.
“What that means is when a minister or pastor needs someone to fill in the pulpit, they’ll call me and I’ll go do that for a Sunday,” Kublik said. “I keep my hand in it without actually being attached to a church. Anytime I’m in the pulpit, I feel like that’s where God has led me to be. It doesn’t matter to me whether I’m preaching occasionally or I’m preaching at a church every Sunday.”
Her husband, Rémy, and daughter, Elissa, are always supportive. Having a supportive spouse is crucial, she said.
“Like a regular minister, you’re called out at all times of the day and night,” Kublik said. “You have meetings during the day and evenings. You have to be available 24-7. He has been wonderful, supporting me when I was at Milton and then at DeFuniak; he attended all the services with me. Instead of staying at our home church in Crestview, he followed me. It’s really rewarding to have a spouse that says, ‘If that’s what God’s telling you to do, that’s what you need to do.’"
When Kublik left First Presbyterian Church of DeFuniak Springs in June 2019, she knew God didn’t have another church for her right away, she said.
“People ask you how you know that,” Kublik said. “Well, I hear God telling me things.”
Kublik lives her life by Matthew 28:16-20.
“Which is where Jesus said, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit and remember I am with you always,’” Kublik said. “I think spreading the Gospel, the good news, is what we are all called to do.”
Kublik has had little push-back about being a woman in ministry, but it happens to all female pastors at one time or another, she said.
“I’ve had people tell me I have no business being in the pulpit because the Bible says women should not speak in church,” Kublik said. “I just tell them, ‘This is what God has called me to do and that’s why I’m doing it.’ … There’s always going to be people who think women should be working in the fellowship hall instead of the pulpit.”
Kublik cites one of her greatest achievements as a pastor as helping make families who normally wouldn’t go to church feel welcome. She especially feels her impact while performing baptisms.
“The sacrament of baptism is probably one of my favorite things to do,” Kublik said. “I’ve baptized adults, babies, young children. It really is an opportunity to stop and appreciate the work you do. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
She feels the same about funerals.
“You really feel it in the times of joy in a congregation’s life and in the times of sorrow in a congregation’s life,” Kublik said. “You feel that you are making a difference.”
Kublik describes her preaching style as relaxed. Rémy said her semons are easy to understand scripturally.
“You can’t talk above people,” Kublik said. “You have to make it understood in the congregation’s language. I have sat in churches where you leave and you say, ‘What in the world was that about?’ because you had no idea what the minister is talking about. I aim to be connected with the congregation when I’m in the pulpit.
“It brings me a lot of joy when people have an a-ha moment about a Scripture.”
Kublik once gave a sermon series about women in the Bible. The story of Esther is one of her favorites. She recommends reading it.
“You hear a lot about people in the New Testament,” Kublik said. “Esther was an Israelite and, because of circumstances, she became the queen, which saved her people.”
Passionate is a good way to describe how Kublik feels about her job, she said. She hopes to inspire others.
“Anyone – especially women – who feel God is calling them into the ministry, don’t hesitate,” Kublik said. “God has work for all of us – at different levels.”