“It’s Never Too Late” is a series that tells the stories of people who have decided to pursue their dreams in their own words.
Since childhood, Bika Steel has dreamed of becoming a priest and paving the way for church leaders. But she had abandoned that dream long ago. She felt out of sync with Catholic upbringing. She felt out of sync with her at the time.
Clarity appeared to her two and a half years ago after Steele, a married elementary school teacher in Madison, Wisconsin, felt so seriously anxious that she thought she had a heart attack and landed in the emergency room. It wasn’t.
Working with a counselor, she realized that she had a hard time accepting her identity for most of her life.she Came out as a transgender woman Shortly thereafter. Her wife accepted her. Her family accepted her.
Steele said the urge to explore new calls was already growing.And many of her school Colleagues and students support her, She said she felt a backlash From some one quarter In the school district, especially on her Use of student-designated bathrooms.. Tim Lemons, a spokesman for the Madison Metropolitan School District, said the problem was that Steele was using the student bathroom instead of gender. Steele said it was a common practice among teachers, adding that adult bathrooms were too far from her classroom.
Despite all this, there was always one important place for her who believed she would never accept her. until now.
Steele, 56, retired from her public school teacher career for nearly 24 years in June. This month she began studying at the Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, on a scholarship aimed at becoming a minister. American Evangelical Lutheran Church (or ELCA), The main denominations of the Lutheran Church Allow members of LGBTQ priests.. (The following interview has been edited and summarized.)
Did you ever feel compelled to follow this path?
It was October 2020 that the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Chicago offered a full week of courses for future students to sit on. It was a very nice revelation. At that time, I really heard that level of discourse. The ELCA branch is working to change, in the name of the church, not only questioning, but admitting, how harm has been done and how it is still being done.
It made me aware. Yes. This is probably something I can think of about what to do. And that was step by step from there.
What made you come up with the sermon?
I feel like I have the opportunity to do something really powerful.
What attracted you to the Lutheran Church?
A friend of Minnesota wrote to tell me how welcome her church was. I love the rituals and traditions I grew up in. And the Lutheran Church has those same or similar rituals and traditions.
But what I especially like about ELCA is that they work hard to be fundamentally inclusive. They are asking all the right questions. They really think about it. They have a strange positive team working. And I think there is a lot to do.
Were you always religious?
As a kid, I really imagined myself becoming a priest or some kind of spiritual leader in the Catholic Church.
I continued to work, probably until I was about 14 years old. I read the reading and the gospel together. I was an altar boy.
But I also knew I didn’t fit because there really wasn’t a word about it. I noticed that the church doesn’t have a room for someone like me or anyone I have. I couldn’t stay in it. And I started to feel that distance. Anyway, the religions I knew at the time were neither welcoming nor inclusive of queer and transgender people.
Is spirituality a decisive feature for you?
As a teenager, I began to call myself from “corrupted Catholics” to “atheists” to “agnostics”, or simply to dispel religious ideas. By the time I was in my thirties, I started calling myself spiritual. Even if I am in the Lutheran tradition, the heart of the work is above all spiritual.
And if I want to be a minister, I really want a world where I’m here to worship and love together.
What are the challenges so far?
It’s hard to say, “I’m a Christian.” It’s hard to say, “I believe in God.” It’s hard to say “I’m praying”. Because all these words are used as weapons against me and are always used as weapons to show that we are not affiliated and are incorrect.
One of the most common phrases is people who say, “Oh, we are praying for you, Bika.” No, you are not praying for me, you are praying that I will be what you want to be me.
What are your goals now?
recognition. Many strange people in the church are not out. They hide their identities because they know it is difficult to get a traditional ministry, even in a positive place.
I want to change it according to my existence. I’m not going to hide who I am. can not. I’m 6 feet 2 and wide shoulders and the voice sounds like a man, but I’m just myself. And we show people that we can work together.
What lessons can people learn from your experience?
Be as open as possible. Be as honest as you can about who you are. Because in the end love is overwhelmed.
I’m looking for someone who decides it’s never too late to switch gears, change lives, or chase dreams. Should we talk to you or anyone you know?Share your story here..
Never too late to obey your spiritual calling
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