The Church of the Nazarene's most recently elected global leader shares about life.
Dr. Carla Sunberg (CS), recently elected General Superintendent, sat down with Holiness Today for Ten Questions. This new HT column will allow us to briefly have conversations with leaders in our denomination. The format consists of ten questions: five that focus on more serious subjects and five that are a bit more light-hearted.
Question 1 (HT): As you begin your role as General Superintendent, what message do you hope your tenure brings to pastors and missionaries in the Church of the Nazarene?
CS: My hope is that my journey is an example that we are not alone in ministry. This work that we do is not something we have to do all by ourselves; God has promised to always be with us. We often face the temptation to do ministry on our own, but I have learned that when we are intentional about spending time with the Lord, the best ministry results from the overflow of God’s presence.
Question 2 (HT): How has your diverse educational journey, from an R.N. to a Ph.D. in theology, prepared you for your current role?
CS: This position, like all educational pursuits, is a journey. Education gives us discipline and an approach to thinking that can help us in spiritual formation and in dialogue. Education is not simply about gaining knowledge, but it is also a journey toward growth that I trust that I can model in this new role.
Question 3 (HT): What do you feel is the global impact of the 2017 General Assembly on the Church of the Nazarene?
CS: The General Assembly really left me feeling energized about the direction of the Church. It felt as if we came to a deeper realization that we are truly a global church. Even the discussions we had on the floor of the Assembly demonstrated strong interaction across cultures, as well as input from young and old Nazarenes listening to one another and seeking what is best for the Church. My prayer is that this momentum can move us forward toward greater synergy for God’s work.
Question 4 (HT): You became the second woman elected to the denomination’s highest office. Do you have any thoughts on the significance of this?
CS: Of course, it is humbling. The first female GS, Dr. Nina Gunter, is someone I greatly admire. Part of the Church’s global emphasis this year, in particular, seemed to include a renewed emphasis on the importance of women in ministry. These days we are hearing the voices of our female ministry colleagues more and more. So, perhaps my election is a demonstration of something larger and is connected to the Church’s desire to make sure the voices of women continue to be heard.
Question 5 (HT): How do you view this role in light of your previous roles as nurse, pastor, missionary, and educator?
CS: There are many aspects of this position that I am figuring out through prayer and guidance. But, to me, this is much more than an administrative role: it is an ecclesial role of pastoral oversight. I want this to be the emphasis I bring to this position as I travel and engage the diverse voices of the Church. I am excited about seeing the everyday life of the Church in a global context.
Now for some fun questions….
Question 6 (HT): Who are some of your heroes?
CS: I was drawn to many of the Early Church Mothers in my doctoral research – women who had an impact on the development of the early Church. Their passion for Christ and the Church made them living examples of theology in action, and I think that is why the Fathers wrote about them.
Question 7 (HT): Which authors have been influential in your life and ministry?
CS: I constantly have books I am working through, often three or four at a time. I like reading early Church history, as I mentioned. But, there are a wide range of contemporary authors that I read consistently. Writers like William Willimon, N.T. Wright, Walter Brueggemann, and Justo Gonzalez are among my many favorites. When I have the opportunity, I like to read novels, as well.
Question 8 (HT): Do you play any instruments?
CS: Yes, I play the flute, piano, and oboe. In college, I sang with MidAmerica’s public relations team.
Question 9 (HT): What are your hobbies?
CS: I love to read and write. And, I love going on long walks with my husband. Of course, I love playing with our grandchildren.
Question 10 (HT): What would someone be surprised to know about you?
CS: I am still a registered nurse, but I can’t stand the sight of blood!
Holiness Today, Jan/Feb 2018