As I get to know the Central Baptist Theological Seminary community, I want you to hear some of the amazing stories that I am hearing. To share those stories with you, I am “interviewing” students, alums, faculty, staff, board members, and supporters and sharing an interview on my blog, THIS IS CENTRAL. I invite you to join me on the journey of meeting members of our Central community.
Today’s interview is with Teresa D. Ambler, an AME pastor and current Central student.
Teresa, tell us about your Central origin story. How did you come to be a student at Central? What led you to Central?
I am a first-year student at Central Baptist Theological Seminary. I like to think my love for learning led me to Central, but it was actually the leadership of my church. I am a member of Allen-St. John African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Kansas City, Missouri, where I serve the church as an ordained itinerant deacon. I am also pastor of two rural churches, one in Richmond and the other one in Mayview, Missouri. Both churches are forty miles from my home and twenty-one miles from each other. Due to COVID-19, I pastor from my home in Kansas City, Missouri. It is a requirement for ordination of an itinerant elder that a person have a Master of Divinity degree, and that is what led me to Central. My anticipated year of graduation is supposed to be 2024/25, but I am progressing toward eternity.
Tell me about your calling and your ministry journey—where have you served previously and where are you now serving? How has God been at work in your life, your calling to ministry and service?
Before entering Central, I was a retired educator fulfilling a simple calling to teach and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. I served in Baptist churches for about forty years in various positions. I accepted the call to preach (1999) in a Baptist church and was both licensed and ordained a minister by that congregation. Unfortunately, I became dissatisfied with the annual program of the church and heard the Holy Spirit tell me to go fishing. My fishing trip led me to an AME church, and the leaders there found work for me to do. I was accepted as a minister of the church, and after thorough examination (three years) I was ordained to serve as a pastor for the AME denomination.
Even though I make this journey sound simple, this is a much condensed version of my story. God has been at work for a long time in my life. Even before people knew I was being called and equipped for service, the Holy Spirit and I were having a conversation. I accepted Christ as my personal Savior in Vacation Bible school (1975), I was baptized, and after much training, I was assigned as a Sunday school teacher. My journey of faith has been rewarding, exciting, and never a dull moment.
I married at an early age and the results ended in a divorce. However, the jewels of the relationship were our five children. I am a mother of five adult children, thirteen grandchildren, and two great-grandsons. To God be the glory for giving me such a loving family.
The Holy Spirit gifted me with the ability to teach which became my livelihood. I had a wonderful and challenging twenty-five-year teaching career and retired knowing God was not through with me yet. This is my second year of pastoring, and I trust God knows what He is doing!
What have been the best resources and experiences you have in your time at Central?
I am thankful to be instructed by such an awesome teaching staff, such as Dr. Sheryl Stewart, Dr. Brian Pendleton, and Dr. Heidi Baxter. I am elated to study with a class of compassionate fellow students. They have been my keeping power. I don’t always know what to do or where to go, but I do know how to call Nathan Huguley, my advisor.