The year was 1972 and Margaret Kutz had plans to use her newly acquired teaching degree and serve as a missionary in Africa. So she called off her wedding, and was ready to go. But God had other plans.
Pastor Marg, as she is now called by many, says God directed her to marry that man, who is still her husband, and go to seminary school to become a pastor. “My husband thought he married a teacher – but instead he got a preacher.”
Thirty-nine years later, she is getting ready to retire as the pastor of Chester United Methodist Church and has the distinguished honor of being the longest serving elder woman in the Virginia United Methodist Conference.
Her path to become a female pastor in a male-dominated field was not an easy one. “In the beginning it was hard… I couldn’t get into ICU, or funeral homes…I had to take proof of my ordainment with me because they didn’t believe I was a pastor.”
Early on she said she did doubt her decision, but then she could feel God was present with her and say, “Yep, I got you.” And that was enough affirmation for her to keep going.
Her advice for young women going into the seminary today is to get support, get some positive affirmation, but be obedient to God.
Ministry is still a tough job, Kutz says, “Sometimes churches can turn against you, and you’ve become family, so that is painful. And sometimes people in the church are going through difficult times and you go through it with them. When they weep, I weep.”
But she says, “She waits for joy to come in the morning.” Kutz says she loves all the aspects of worship – the Baptisms, sermons and especially working with the youth.
People are coming to church to look for what they’ve always looked for – meaning and hope. “I would hope that when people come to our church, they see the joy of the Lord, the passion for our faith and our love for each other.”
Kutz says that everyone finds hope in different ways. Some volunteer, some sing, some help the youth or the elderly, some make meals, and some hear it in the sermon. It’s important she says to use your God-given gifts, “We really only have one life, so try to use it and use your gifts for others.”
Margaret Kutz, is a graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity and of Virginia Union University School of Theology with a Doctor of Ministry says, “I feel like I’ve finished strong, I mean faithful, and I’m still the person I’m supposed to be.”
And for the plan that she once abandoned, her lifelong dream of becoming a missionary in Africa, may still come true. “I hope to go to South Sudan and teach at their new school soon.”