A Reluctant Pastor
A couple of years later, Gail put two and two together: her calling could be fulfilled through music in the church. After marriage and college graduation, she served as a musical worship leader at a church outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and then as a worship director at a multi-ethnic church in Durham, North Carolina. She and her family had landed in the South, so Brian (who’s now a theologian, professor, and author at Seattle Pacific University) could attend Duke Divinity School. Along the way, though, many people began asking Gail if she might consider going to seminary as well.
She refused their sentiments. She felt she was too social to sit at a desk, and she couldn’t imagine years of lectures, reading, and writing. But God had other plans. After ten years in local church ministry, she wondered if it might be her time to step back into the classroom as a seminarian. So, she decided to tell the heavens how it was going to happen.
“Lord, if you really want me to go to seminary,” she remembers saying, “then I need to get into Duke, because this is where we live. And I’m certainly not moving to study! I’m also not going to pay for it, so if you want me to be there, you have to provide.”
And God did. Although she dragged her feet and turned in her application on the very last day, Bantum was accepted into Duke’s prestigious program, with a full-ride Dean’s Scholarship to boot.
A Practical, Prophetic Pastor
A decade later, Gail Song Bantum is certain of her calling, not only to the local church, but also to recognizing that we’ve all been given a particular story, with unique gifts and passions that exist for a specific reason and purpose. This plays out in a variety of ways at Quest, a large church in the Pacific Northwest that embodies values of compassion and justice, mystery and diversity, and deep and authentic Christian community. As executive pastor, Bantum oversees all of this, believing herself a conductor. She strives to help make other people their best. Because she is passionate about helping others flourish, thrive, and be all that God has called them to be, she seeks to live it out herself every day.