Local pastor raised to Elder


Pastor Martha Epstein (center) was ordained as an Elder during the Ordination Service at Hofstra University on June 10. — Stephanie Parsons and Joanne S. Utley photo

Pastor Martha Epstein of the United Methodist Church Monroe (UMC Monroe) was ordained as an elder last month.

Epstein, who has been working with UMC Monroe for the last five years, said she had been working toward her elder title since 2007.

Becoming an Elder

“Being ordained as an elder is a long journey,” Epstein said. “Basically I’m now a reverend forever.”

With her new title Epstein has more authority and is a full voting member within the UMC.

To become an elder she first had to respond to her “calling from God” and was mentored by another reverend in the church while others confirmed that she had been called to the church.

She then had to decide if she wanted to be a local pastor or if she wanted to be an elder, which would allow her to serve anywhere with additional responsibilities.

Epstein said she had to earn a master’s degree in divinity, complete courses and workshops dealing with multicultural awareness and take a psychological evaluation.

“It’s a good couple years that you put in,” she said.

After completing the degree and the other coursework, candidates are “commissioned” and practice what they have learned with the church. After displaying what she had learned, she had to provide “proof of ministry” to show what she had done while working with the church.

Pastor Martha Epstein celebrated her ordination with her family after the Ordination Ceremony. — Kathy Schmalkuche photo

After becoming an elder, the church can move Epstein to other churches in the area where she is needed, but for now she hopes to stay in Monroe.

“I hope and pray that I will stay. I love this community and I love Monroe,” she said.

Answering the call

Prior to becoming a pastor, Epstein was a teacher. She said that she chose to make her career change after becoming a lay speaker at her local church. A lay speaker is someone who gives sermons while a pastor is away.

“The more I did that, the more I enjoyed it,” she said. “I really felt that God was calling me to move into full-time ministry.”

Epstein said she took her time to make sure she was making the shift because she believed she was being called to serve God.


After her ordainment Epstein said she couldn’t describe how it felt to finally achieve her goal after ten years.

“When you strive for something for so long and it actually happens there’s a part of you that’s relieved and it’s just awesome,” she said. “It was very affirming and so wonderful to have so many people support me. The church here has also been very supportive of me doing what I need to do. It’s been a real blessing.”

UMC Monroe celebrated Epstein’s ordainment last month with a large party.

“It was tremendous,” she said.

Methodists from Monroe and churches that Epstein had previously served with in Poughkeepsie, as well relatives from around the country, came to recognize her accomplishment.

“I’m excited to see what’s next in my journey and what God might have in store for us in Monroe,” she said.

About author
TinaMarie Craven is the Arts & Leisure editor. She previously worked as the editor of the Monroe Courier and the Lewisboro Ledger. She graduated from Ithaca College with a BA in Journalism and Politics in 2015.

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