The Journey

Video Transcript: I’m Reverend Sheila Sholes-Ross and I say reverend because this has been a long road getting to Reverend Sheila Sholes-Ross. Right now, I’m Executive Director of Communities in Schools of Orange County, a drop-out prevention organization and also I am Co-chair of the Equity for Women in the Church Community with the Alliance of Baptists. I wear many hats, participate in many roles but that’s me.

At age 17, I knew I was being called to something. I didn’t know what it was and even when I graduated from high school in the yearbook where they had what were you aspiring to be when you go to college and after you graduate, I wanted to put there undecided but my parents said, “Oh, my goodness. You can’t put undecided there,” so I put in there I was going to be an administrative secretary and once I got to college with my talents, gift of music, I majored in Music.

Even after that, it didn’t feel right to be in Music Therapy. That wasn’t what I was called to do. In undergraduate school, I was a double major. By the time I graduate in the 1978, I had two degrees, still being called to something. Went and got another degree, Master’s in Administration and Supervision, kept getting degrees, kept getting degrees. Finally got married and my first year of marriage, I told my husband, “I think God is calling you into ministry. You need to say to God that I will not be married to a minister.”

This was, we were both born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana so I had never seen a practicing female clergy person. That went off for years. My husband kept saying, “God is not calling me.” Well, not seeing the practicing female clergy person, I knew God wasn’t calling me not until I was recruited by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to use one of the degrees I had acquired by that time. I had three degrees at that time, my administration and supervision degree. I was hired as Director of the Adolescent Health Initiative implementing school-based and school-linked programs across the State of North Carolina.

I still was being pulled into something but I went back to school to Carolina and got a Master’s of Public Health thinking I could satisfy this tug and again, telling my husband, “You need to tell God that I will not be married to a preacher.” I was getting a little more … at first, I was saying minister and then I was making it sound preacher from the depths of my soul. Preacher, preaches wife? No. Then finally, I heard, “No, you feed my sheep. You feed my sheep.” I went to my husband and I said, “God was not calling you. God has been calling me,” and he said, “Thank goodness. You have finally listened to God.”

Then I went back to school but this time I was sure I was going back to school for something and that was the Master of Divinity degree and everything was coming together, hearing God, preparing to do God’s work so here I am, Reverend Sheila Sholes-Ross, ordained through American Baptist Churches USA and that’s why I said it was a struggle and quite a journey to get to this place.