Lisa Biersch Cole: The Twists and Turns to Her Ordination

Lisa Biersch Cole: The Twists and Turns to Her Ordination

By Lori Korleski Richardson

Lisa Biersch Cole, who will be ordained to the priesthood at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3, at Trinity, Sonoma, was a busy mom and marketing-advertising professional who had never thought of herself in the role of a priest when her spiritual leader suggested she might be called to preach. " 'What?' I said. I had suggested a few things I wanted in the sermon for my second son's baptism, but it just about floored me when he asked if I wanted to preach. 'Oh, no, no,' I said. 'That's the priest's job,' " she recalled. 

But he didn't let it drop, and later suggested she should take a few seminary courses and explore whether she was called to the priesthood. Still, she felt that "my faith wasn't formed enough" to go down that path. But she stayed involved in the Episcopal church, raising her family and attending faithfully, believing that the parish model for spreading the gospel "is the best marketing plan ever. I found my professional and church life intersecting like that." There were many highs and lows along the way: moving to Alameda after a year in Italy and raising her three children in the first parish to sponsor her for Holy Orders; a lot of travel while going to seminary - "I did CPE (clinical pastoral education) in Maine, some field education work in the Los Angeles area," then more field education in the Diocese of California; her parents' move to Sonoma as she completed her master's of divinity at CDSP, which in turn introduced her to worship at Trinity, Sonoma. 

Cole still wasn't sure she was ready. But others had faith in her and eventually, she entered the process to become a priest in the Diocese of Northern California. 

She was able to serve as a transitional deacon in Sonoma, where she worked on strengthening their lay ministries, and started a summer Friday prayer service at 4 p.m. at Trinity on the fourth Friday of the month, with lay-led evening prayer. It has proved popular, and with a desire to "cover Sonoma with prayer" throughout the year, she talked to Methodist, Congregationalist and Jewish congregations in the community about providing a prayer service of their choosing for the other three weeks of the month and that rotation will start in the fall. She will continue to assist at Trinity in the immediate future. Rev. Lisa says she's looking forward to parish ministry, celebrating Eucharist and preaching. "All the stops and starts really made it clear that God did want me to do this," she said.

All are invited to the ordination; clergy are asked to wear red stoles. A reception will follow. 

- Lori Korleski Richardson is a freelance writer and editor based in Sacramento. She attends Trinity Cathedral.

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