Merianna Neely Harrelson: Saints and Stepfamilies

Friday morning:
“So, are you an evil stepmother or a kind stepmother?”

Sunday morning:
“After prayerful deliberation, we, of Emmanuel Baptist Fellowship, in Lexington, SC have called Marianna Neely Harrelson as Pastor. Merianna began her pastorate with us on June 1, 2014. She is the third person and first female called to serve our community of faith as Pastor.”

I’ve officially been a wife for 9 months and each time my husband looks at me and tells me that he believes in me and introduces me as his wife and shares his life with me, I feel extraordinary that I’ve been invited and trusted to share a call with him.

I’ve officially been a stepmother for 9 months and each time our 6 year old or 4 year old looks at me and calls me Mama 2 or Merianna and shares a little bit of their lives with me, I feel extraordinary that I’ve been invited to share these important formative years with them.

I’ve officially been a pastor for 16 days and each time one of my congregants looks at me and calls me Pastor and shares a little bit of their joy or grief, I feel extraordinary that they affirm the calling God’s placed on my life.

Pastor, wife, stepmother: there is nothing ordinary about this new life I am stepping into. I know that as I preach during this ordinary time, there will be some aspect of the extraordinary woven into each sermon because of where I am right now. And I’m glad that this first ordinary time of my preaching life is filled with so much extraordinary.

It’s easy to fall into a routine of the daily responsibilities of being a pastor, wife, and mother and think this is just another ordinary day. Right now I’m having trouble believing there are ordinary days. Too often ordinary conversations with other pastors, stepmothers and wives have turned so wholly divine that I’ve been literally speechless.

How is it possible that there is someone who is willing to share their own fears about being a stepmother so openly to me, so that I won’t feel so alone?

Why have there been two groups of women who have lovingly offered to include me in their mentor groups, so that I have a sounding board and safe haven?

Because we do not live in an ordinary world. We live in an extraordinary world full of spirit-filled people who believe that Pentecost is not a once a year occurrence, but rather ignites a flame that carries us into a time that may seem ordinary, but is fire-filled.

Once we start believing we are ordinary, we stop believing that God is extraordinary.

As I looked at Mary Hudson and Laura Cooper sitting on the first row on Sunday and watching me, their Mama 2, as I was installed, I can’t help but think that maybe, just maybe they will be able to see a God who is extraordinary, too, because of the women who are living into their calls and the spirit-filled people who are transforming the world.

May we live as passionate, spirit-filled lives during these ordinary times so the world may see that there is something extraordinary in every day.


Merianna Neely Harrelson is the Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Fellowship in Lexington, SC. As the other part of her bi-vocational position, she works as the Editor-in-Chief of Harrelson Press Publishing. She and her husband and daughters live in Columbia, SC with their two dogs Willie and Waylon.

1 thought on “Merianna Neely Harrelson: Saints and Stepfamilies

  1. It is so good to see women in pastoral roles. Congratulations!! You will be a good role model for your children and a much needed role model for both female and male.
    Jim Wood

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s