When it came to heeding her call, third time was the charm for Rhonda Britton, MDiv ’02. She first received her call as a 15-year-old living in Jacksonville, Florida, after praying about what God wanted her to do with her life. “I started having visions of myself preaching to crowds of people, but I didn't know what to make of that since I didn’t have any female ministers in my life to speak with,” Britton recalls. “I put it to the side and went on with life as usual.”
Throughout her career as a computer systems professional and business analyst, little hints kept popping up. Pastors who heard her speak told her she had a calling for ministry. A church elder nicknamed her “Rev.” A senior deacon told her to stop running from her call. “I just kind of laughed all this off,” she says. But in 1998, two decades into her career, she attended a women’s retreat in Brooklyn and received her second call. “I decided, yes Lord, I hear you, and I’m accepting the call,” she says. “By the time I got back to New Jersey I had changed my mind!”
Finally, not two weeks later, Britton attended a sermon by a visiting evangelist and prophet who delivered a potent message just for her. “I had a talk with my pastor about going to seminary to become a pastor and his response was, ‘it’s about time,’” she says.
Britton’s path in ministry took her from New Jersey to New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she’s been preaching at New Horizons Baptist Church for almost 15 years. Earlier this year, she received Acadia Divinity College’s Alumni Distinguished Service Award. In January 2021, she was elected the first Black female president of the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada (CBAC), an organization that represents more than 450 churches.
What drew her to the organization are its many programs, including those focused on raising up young leaders. “It’s about addressing the questions I faced as a teenager,” she says, “and streamlining our processes so they can get from call to pulpit faster and well equipped.” Another program, called Your Calling is Calling, aims to help people discern their call — whether it’s pastoral or through volunteering — and connect with resources to put it into action.
“When I was a teenager, I didn’t have any role models or people with whom to discuss my call,” Britton says. “Today, there are so many churches, especially Black churches, that don’t know there are resources available to them. I’m part of the CBAC because we need to educate our churches and the population about how to best live out God’s call.”