The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Everybody Has a Story

January 18, 2010

Ordained with Purpose

COMMERCE — Mary Alice Lyman is an ordained minister with a purpose.

Lyman recently took over as ordained minister for the First Presbyterian Church of Commerce.

There was no great epiphany that brought Lyman to the realization that she wanted to become ordained. It was more a gradual culmination.

“When I was fifteen I went to a youth conference at Trinity University in San Antonio,” said Lyman. “It was there that I realized that there were more Presbyterians in the world than just the few that I saw in Waco.”

After attending the conference, she realized she wanted to work in the church, but being 15 years old, she didn’t fully understand all that entailed.

“At that age, you don’t really know what all that means, being called to ministry,” she said. “You just don’t have a concept of that yet, even though, at the time, I thought I did.”

Lyman grew up in Waco, where she followed in her family’s footsteps to attend Baylor University. There she received her bachelor’s of science degree in education, with history and English being her chosen teaching fields.

According to Lyman, during her time at Baylor, between 1976 to 1980, there were very few women interested in ministry.

“That helped me think through my desire to be a minister and what it meant being a woman called to ministry,” she said.

When she finalized her decision to go to seminary, she decided she would leave the south.

“Back then, in the olden days before the Internet, I got out the Presbyterian seminary catalog and choose McCormick in Chicago,” she said. “When I started there my class was the first one to be 50 percent male and 50 percent female. I was there from 1981 to 1985.”

This may seem like a hasty move, moving so far away from everything she’d known, but Lyman’s mother had grown up in Wisconsin, so she had family nearby for support.

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