Oh the Places You Will Go


Ordained XA Females  – Part 3

For the third time, I highlight twelve females in XA that recently were ordained. These are who I discovered. I know there are more. It is exciting to see the increased number of our XA females earning ordination ministerial credentials with AG— “Oh, the places you’ll go!” This adds to their credibility and quality in ministry. They are professionals, and XA, the AG, and the University benefit from these single and married women serving XA on campuses nationwide. We are proud of them. The following represent eleven campuses and seven states, and one serves nationally with an international student ministry.  

  1. Elizabeth (Liz) Gao – Stephens College and Columbia College, MO

Liz graduated from the University of Missouri in 2015 with a degree in international studies (studied Chinese language and culture), and gave two years to XA as a missionary associate before becoming the director of XA at two private colleges in Columbia, Missouri—Stephens College and Columbia College. She was encouraged to get her credentials while serving as an MA. She married to Yixiang Gao last year.

After listening to the national XA director, Scott Martin’s interview with the AG General Secretary, Donna Barrett about ministerial credentialing, she realized the first two levels were always intended to lead to ordination.  Liz was ordained this year.

2.Kristin Everett – Columbus State University, Georgia

Kristen, originally from the Seattle area, graduated from Central Washington U in 2012. She tells of how XA students found her on the first day on campus in 2008, and she quickly became involved in XA for the next four years. During her college years, she felt a pull toward world missions but knew she needed more training. She attended the 2012 World Missions Summit in Ft. Worth, which led her to participate in a CMIT internship at Georgetown University in Washington DC, 2013-2014. That year she attended her first district council and experienced an ordination service for the first time, and could imagine herself becoming ordained.

During her internship, Ouida Bradford, GA District XA Director, spoke at a retreat. Kristen had met her the summer before at the Reach the U Institute and got to know her better when she came for the retreat. Kristen went to Atlanta on a XA missions trip and while there connected with Ouida. A few months later Ouida sent a FB message inviting Kristen to come on staff at Columbus State University. She accepted the position and relocated to Columbus in 2014, and has served on staff for 8 years. She met her future husband, Blake, in 2016, and they married in 2019. She received her license in 2017 and pursued ordination. Having been full-time on campus since 2014, she knew it was time to get ordained. She was ordained this year. She is going on staff with a house church that she has been part of since being in Columbus.

3.Laurie Atz–Indiana U­–Purdue U Fort Wayne

In 2007, Laura Atz began a journey to become a licensed preacher with the AG.  She had served in the local church in many roles including women’s director, lay counselor, teacher, and ten years in youth ministry, focusing on discipleship. She became the young adult director at First Assembly in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The church offered a training opportunity with online classes at Southwestern University and when the program closed, I continued to take classes with the Indiana School of Ministry (ISOM).  In 2008, Steve and Belkis Lehmann, Great Lakes Area Directors, came to speak at their young adult service. In 2009, Laura became a XA Missionary Associate and pioneered XA at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and Indiana Tech. She led small groups, discipled and mentored leaders, and led missions trips. Seven years later in 2016 at the age 57, she was ordained. With a passion for mission, to learn and develop skills to better serve the Lord and Savior, she continues as the XA director and Young Adult pastor and as the Missions and Outreach Pastor. God has blessed her with a staff team;  two MAs and three affiliated volunteers and with this additional assistance they have pioneered a XA at Indiana Tech.

4. Kim Boley – Southeast Missouri State University

Kim was ordained in 2019 with the Southern Missouri District.  Kim was discipled as a student in XA at Missouri State University. She felt God call me to give-a-year into ministry and pray about a lifetime. That led her to the University of Missouri, Columbia. That one step of obedience brought her to where she is today  She wanted to learn more and knew qualifying for ordination would increase her greater capacity to serve and be an example to other females who would come after her. Kim served seven years on XA staff at the Mizzou from 2006. Kim Shaw married James Boley in 2009 and they pioneered Southeast Missouri State University in 2013. As campus missionary her responsibilities include teaching, preaching, discipling women, hospitality ministry, training CMITs, and leading small groups.

5. Abigail Sawczak – University of Wisconsin Madison

Abigail has served for 6 years as the director of a multi-campus XA in Madison, Wisconsin at the University of Wisconsin Madison and Edgewood College. She studied Pastoral Studies at North Central University and upon graduation she earned her credentials as a licensed minister at age 22. As the lead director of the staff team, she preaches, and oversees the student internship program. In 2018, she planted New Culture Church and serves as lead pastor. The church serves the downtown and University community in Madison. Abigail was ordained in 2020, and said this, “It is an honor to be an ordained female minister and I look forward to more Chi Alpha women pursuing their credentials in this way.”  

6. Jada Pothina–International Student Ministry

Jada was ordained in 2019 by the North Texas District. Currently she is working at the national XA Ministry Center as an operations specialist serving XAi with Severin Lwali, the national director of XAi and a team to resource and train XA staff and students in welcoming international students and discipling them from friendship to leadership. Her husband Dharhas is a computer scientist. Prior to this newly created position, she served full time with XA at the University of Texas at Austin for seven years engaged in teaching, leading women’s groups, resourcing CMIT, and overseeing small discipleship groups. Kelly Brown, her campus director at UT Austin encouraged her to pursue ordination. Jada was interested in mentoring other women and being eligible for leadership opportunities in the AG. Jada was a volunteer staff with XA at UT Austin for several years before pursuing credentials and missionary appointment. She explained, “I have enjoyed being part of XA because of its emphasis on discipleship, mission and Holy Spirit empowerment. I have seen the XA model of missions and discipleship transform the lines of students and produce healthy, reproducing spiritual communities. I also enjoy having the privilege of working on teams alongside other men and women of God who love Jesus and live out the great commission in their everyday lives.” 

7. Hope Kenyon- Oregon State University, Corvallis

Hope has served as a campus missionary since 2018 at Oregon State University and received ordination this year. Her parents, Howard and Kim Kenyon (photo on left) were campus missionaries when they were single, Kim at Western Washington, and Howard, at Baylor University, and Southwest Missouri State University. They also served as AG world missionaries. Hope is in line with eight generations of ministers/ missionaries.

8. Catherine Winkelman– University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee

Catherine and her husband are directors at UW Milwaukee. She graduated from North Central U and began helping with the XA ministry at the University of Minnesota Minneapolis. She married Jeff in 2013 and they soon felt the call to pioneer XA. In order to better prepare for planting a new XA, in 2014, they joined the XA team at the University of Minnesota Duluth. In 2016, they moved to Milwaukee where they would co-pioneer and co-direct a new XA at UW Milwaukee. Catherine had been licensed for 7 years before pursuing ordination. She said, “Ordination was the next step, and I felt the weight and responsibility to be a part of the AG in that way.” This article focuses on XA females but because she and Jeff are doing life and ministry together, they got ordained together. They both were humbled by the support they received for being ordained and living out their calling together. The presbyter who prayed included in his prayer, “side by side, not dragging the other” as a way of warmly affirming their position to get ordained at the same time.

9. Kasey Widner, University of South Florida, Tampa

Kasey and her husband, Steven attended and graduated from North Dakota State University. When Kasey went to college she wanted to find a Christian community.  On the way to her dorm on move-in day, one of the RAs saw her “Jesus freak” tattoo and told her about Sadie who would be the RA for her dorm. Sadie introduced Kasey to other XA friends. Kasey ended up hosting a small group in her dorm and got connected and plugged into XA right away.  Kasey served as a small group leader for three years. Kasey was an active member of XA from the start as a freshman. In her senior year, she decided to do a Campus Missionary-in-Training internship and along with Steve, they both completed the training and obtained a ministerial license through the study of the Bible with Berean. Kasey served on NDSU XA campus staff for 4 years. She and Steven sensed a calling to relocate and pursue pioneering a campus ministry in September 2019. They moved to the University of South Florida in Tampa, in May 2020, to start XA. They have just completed their second year on campus.

Kasey had always wanted to be ordained. She explained, “I was the first Christian in my family, first pastor and I wanted to make it even more official with the highest honors possible. Especially as a female leader, I figure you can’t do enough to make yourself more credible.” She completed her Bible classes last summer and completed the process this fall, and became ordained in 2022.

10. Cathaleen Hansen, Skagit Valley College, Mt. Vernon, WA

Cathaleen has been serving at Skagit Valley College (SVC) since 2018 and recently as the interim team lead for her campus. Her role requires her to wear many different hats, not only does she preach regularly and mentor students, but she meets with my staff, leads worship, and leads cores.  Cathaleen’s time in XA goes all the way back to 2011 when she became a freshman at SVC. She transferred to Western Washington University where she did two years of CMIT under Brady Bobbink. She met her husband, Will, during the CMIT program. They both joined the SVC staff in 2018, married in 2019, and are expecting our first child in November. She and Will were ordained this year. She explains that it was incredibly special to be ordained together with our child on the way. Ordination has always been her goal since stepping into ministry. She shared, “I am passionate about discipling young women and raising them up to be leaders and helping them grow more in love with the Lord and with scripture. I feel it is important to set an example for my students, the young ladies that I mentor, that a woman can take lead roles and do more than you might think you can do for the Lord. I never dreamed I would be an ordained minister, I didn’t think I was capable, but God called me, and when He calls He also equips, so here I am. And if I can do it, then so can they!” 

11. Lindsay Lake  – Bellevue College, Washington

Lindsay became a Christian through Chi Alpha (CCF) at Western Washington University during her freshman year of college in the Winter of 2011. It was in Core (small groups) and one-on-ones, and Friday Night Fellowship where she fell in love with Jesus.  She loved everything about XA, so much so that I found a major (Human Services) that gave me tools to help me as a Core leader. in CCF. After graduating, I did 2 years of the Chi Alpha internship (2014-2016).

Lindsay knew she loved campus ministry but struggled with depression and anxiety. She wasn’t sure if she would be able to do it. She found comfort and courage in 2 Corinthians 12:9, where the Apostle Paul said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” This has been true for her life.  Lindsay has been on staff with XA at Bellevue College for the last six years (2016-2022). She has seen how her mental health journey has allowed students the space to seek healing from Jesus. 

Lindsay, said, “I got ordained because I want the students I work with to see that no matter who they are or what ‘weaknesses’ they may walk with, there is still a space for them to be in ministry. I want to encourage and embolden young men & women and anyone walking with mental health to know that there is a seat for them at the table.”

She is already seeing the fruit of her decision to get ordained. The girls she disciples have asked questions about why she got ordained and expressed how they never thought they could be in ministry, but believe God might open that door for them to be on a mission for Him.

12. Sarah Young, U of Idaho, Moscow

Sarah started in Chi Alpha as a freshman at Western Washington University and graduated in 2014 with a degree in English-Creative Writing and a minor in Religious Studies. During her time as a student, God began building in her a call to ministry, even though she wouldn’t have called it that at the time. After completing two years of the Campus Missionary-in Training (CMIT) program, she knew that university ministry was where God was directing her. She completed her studies during CMIT and got licensed in Oregon, where she went with a XA team in 2016 to the University of Oregon. She served three years at the U of O and during that time she met and married her husband, Isaac. Sarah joined the XA team at the University of Idaho in Moscow in 2019, and she and Isaac married the following year. She explained, “Because I moved districts, I couldn’t be ordained right away, but the more I thought about it the more I realized I wanted to follow through with it when I could. Not only could I participate more fully in the Northwest Ministry Network, but I also saw it as an opportunity to embrace my calling as a woman in ministry and receive the covering of the network of ministers.” Sarah has been engaged in full-time XA ministry for eight years and looks forward to what God wants to do next.

Check This Out:

Tom Trask II, campus minister, U Missouri,

posting on Facebook, August 26, 2022, 11:31 p.m.

“That’s 38, 39, 40, & 41…credentialed with the AG out of Mizzou Chi Alpha in the last 17 years. One of my favorite times happened at Northern Missouri District Council tonight, the credentialing service. There’s nothing more fulfilling than watching our Chi Alpha alumni become ministers with the AG. Tonight, we celebrate four more. Briley Eilers, Kaitlyn Litchfield, Amanda Steinmeyer, and Whitney Cravens who were certified, Kyle Melton who was licensed, and last but not least, Pastor Elizabeth Gao who was ordained tonight. (see above) Disciples who became teachers, who will now go make disciples.“

There are plenty of XA females that have been certified and licensed this year, and earned Master’s Degrees. We only highlighted females who were ordained, and not all of them.


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