First Clergywoman in Methodist Church of Chile, Missionary to Ecuador
“I was feeling unloved, lonely, angry. I was 12 years old, a poor child off the streets when I saw the open doors of a Methodist church. I walked in and dared their hospitality.”
Now Flor Rodriguez looks back on her life in the church, full of struggle and full of grace. She says, “Through the church I’ve been accepted into an extended family. And through it all, my own faith has grown and deepened.”
Flor Rodriguez became the first ordained clergywoman of the Methodist Church of Chile. She did her theological studies in Chile and at Scarritt College in Nashville, Tennessee. While pastoring churches in Chile, she served on the first executive committee of the Latin America Council of Churches and on the World Council of Churches, the Program to Combat Racism. She served as a missionary from Chile serving in Ecuador.
Local church folks in Chile could tell some “Flor stories." How they picketed her arrival as pastor then a year later begged the bishop to reappoint her there. How the men of the church, before they knew what hit them, were cooking and serving hot breakfasts to the street children. How Flor, with proper clergy collar, greeted the pope, reminding him of all the Roman Catholic women waiting for ordination.
Folks in Ecuador can join in telling of Flor’s strength and strong leadership and lively humor. She pastored a church there, taught in a lay training program, and made a vigorous witness with her colorful life.
“The most critical moment for me came when I had to decide between a safe and easy life and a life committed to following Jesus Christ.”
Adapted from “Flowering of Faith: Flor Rodriguez of Chile,” in People Just Like These: Stories of Persons in Mission Serving Around the World, edited by Elizabeth L. Howard. (Denver, CO, and New York, NY: Global Mission Partners and The World Division, The General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church, 1992), p. 14.