Student of the Month: Pauline Ong
Pauline is one of the executive pastors at Free Community Church, the only progressive and LGBTQ+ affirming Christian congregation in Singapore currently. She is also a certified counsellor and life coach. She is passionate about the spiritual and emotional well-being and growth of individuals and communities, and works towards helping every person know they are beloved beyond labels. She majored in Sociology and Japanese Studies in the National University of Singapore, and holds a Masters in Intercultural Studies from Singapore Bible College, and a Master in Counselling from Monash University, Australia. She is currently pursuing her Master of Divinity in Ministerial Leadership at Claremont School of Theology, USA.
What are you studying and why? How will you use that in your call?
I am currently doing my Master of Divinity in Ministerial Leadership at Claremont School of Theology. In this season of my life, I wanted to study theology at a more progressive seminary, and expand my heart, mind and soul as a leader and pastor. I think it is helping me develop my theological voice as a queer Christian woman in Asia. I know my voice is important in panels, dialogues and conversations as we seek to build bridges between the church and the lgbtq+ community. In general, there is a dearth of women’s voices where it matters most, within the church as well as in the lgbtq+ community. So I hope to not only contribute my voice but to lift up the voices of other women as well. This includes the voices of women leaders from other religious traditions as we collaborate on interfaith initiatives.
What have you learned from your leadership experiences? I have learnt that humility is having an accurate measure of who I am in light of who God is. This means not seeing myself as any higher or lower than how God sees me. People will have a lot of opinions about us and the things we do, especially as leaders. Sometimes those opinions are helpful and sometimes they are not. Ultimately, it is about going back to the center of who I am and resting in how God sees me. The other thing that has helped me is something Brene Brown said: Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind. I had a tendency to avoid conflict and found it hard to articulate my thoughts and opinions in conflict situations. But I realized clarity is really important in building trust between people, and I have been working at being better at this. What has your experience been with PANAAWTM? My experience with PANAAWTM has been inspiring and meaningful! Just being in the same room with so many amazing, accomplished and heart-ful women moved me deeply. There is a sense of solidarity and soulfulness that is hard to express in words. I learnt so much not just from the sessions, but from the conversations and presence of each and every person. What are you looking forward to most this year? I am looking forward to working alongside my women minister friends as we conspire to lift up the voices of women in leadership, especially in the religious arena.