Pastors' Memoirs

Beatrice Callis, 1925-2002

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  Bea Callis was a woman before her time. Called to preach and pastor, this mother and wife answered the call in 1954, and joined her husband, the Rev. Robert Callis, in ministry. Though never ordained an elder in the Virginia Annual Conference, she was licensed as a local pastor in 1954, ordained a deacon in 1961, and ordained a local elder in 1963. Bea had a supportive husband in Robert, with whom she co-pastored in several appointments, who said, "People would ask me over and over, ‘Bob, don’t you feel jealous of your wife’s talents as a minister.’ I would reply, ‘Not at all! God made us one in marriage. Therefore, half the praise belongs to me. I’m her husband. I like that!’ "

  In the late 1950s when Robert was appointed to South Brunswick Circuit with six churches and over a thousand members, it became evident that the charge needed to be divided into two circuits. Bea began preaching to three churches and Robert to three. They would switch every other week. One man objected, saying "I don’t believe in women ministers." After hearing the Lord speak through Bea, he said, "Now I do!"

  In 1962, another charge had experienced trauma with its pastor. Robert reported that the district superintendent and the bishop agreed that no man preacher could go to that church. Bea was called to preach the word and calm the people. After one year, Central United Methodist Church on the charge became a station and Bea continued as its pastor until 1967.

  Her voice was ideal for preaching. She would say, "I don’t really need a microphone to be heard." She would always carry a white handkerchief in one hand and a yellow legal pad in the other, writing down new ideas as God spoke to her. Her creativity led her to use visuals in worship which reinforced the theme of the worship service. On one Palm Sunday in 1977 at Fieldale Church, where Robert and Bea worked as a pastoral team, they led the congregation in a procession from the ball field with palm branches and a donkey (actually a small mule!) to the church.

  Susanna Wesley’s epitaph, written by her son Charles, includes these words:

Meet for the fellowship above

She heard the call, "Arise, my love!"

"I come!" her dying looks replied

And lamb-like as her Lord, she died.

  Last December, the Rev. Bea Callis was called home to "the fellowship above," and though you will not find her name listed in the Journal with other clergy who have served this conference, you will find her name written in the hearts of the people she loved and served in Virginia. Well done, good and faithful servant!

— Excerpted from an article by Mary Beth Blinn in the May 2003 issue of the
Virginia United Methodist Advocate newsmagazine



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