By Tyler Sprouse, TWK Communications Specialist
In the book of Romans, Paul explains to his readers that, because of God’s ever-present love, he is empowered to rejoice in his sufferings (Rom. 5:3-5). Although penned in ancient days by the apostle, these words could have been written in our own time by the pastor of Emery UMC in Murfreesboro, Rev. Angela Ford.
On Sunday, July 17, 2022, during a special service at her church, Rev. Angela Ford was officially recognized as a licensed local pastor.
Ford was unable to join her licensing cohort for recognition at annual conference because she was in the hospital. For over two years, she has battled and continues to battle small cell lung cancer, a disease with a typically negative prognosis.
“When I spoke with my doctor,” said Ford, “he told me that there is no cure.”
Ford’s attitude and outlook on life, however, do not reflect this; through her trust in God’s goodness, she continues to persevere and thrive in ministry.
“A friend of mine told me, ‘Life is terminal; we have to keep marching on and doing good because only God knows the day and the hour,’” reflected Ford. “I take solace in this, and I believe that God can do anything.”
When she was initially diagnosed, she had just started her appointment at Emery UMC. Through her chemotherapy and radiation treatments, she remained steadfast in her passion for ministry.
“I didn’t have time for a cancer diagnosis!” said Ford. “At one point, I had radiation for 35 consecutive days. Even though I was fighting for my life, I continued to lead services and minister to my people.”
Although it seemed for a time that she might be healed, the cancer has subsisted and continues to spread. Still, Ford’s faith remains strong; and, with her beloved Bohemian-style hat upon her now shaved head, she is focused on the work at hand.
“I know my God, and I know what God can do,” said Ford. “I know that I have a purpose, and I believe every day that I have some type of ministry opportunity in my life, even with passersby.”
The celebration of her licensure was particularly special, because it solidified to her how faithful God has been throughout the journey. There were many people on hand to celebrate this moment—including Bishop McAlilly, whose presence was a joyous surprise to Ford.
“Having the bishop present,” said Ford, “meant so much to me. And the church was so full! I was also very grateful to see De Hennessey, Chip Hunter, Jefferson Furtado, and Lynn Patterson in attendance. Experiencing everyone’s loving presence was healing to my soul.”
Looking ahead, Ford is eager to continue her work with young persons who are justice-involved—a work she has been doing for nearly 20 years. She’s also excited to continue inspiring others and helping them hear the word of God.
“I find strength in knowing that I have the chance to share God’s word with my people each week,” reflected Ford. “I don’t want to miss an opportunity to give someone hope and joy. I treat each day as a gift, and the Holy Spirit gives me hope to love others as Christ loved us.
“After all,” she continued, “what is there, besides love?”