Banking on her faith in God
“As I grew and developed in the faith, I recognized now God must have been calling me along without my realizing it because of the things that I have been doing within the church and what was said to me by individuals, so I think that the call must have been there.”
The call Rev. Arlette Waterman is speaking about prompted her to leave a job as a bank manager with CIBC in 2002 to go into full-time ministry with the Methodist Church. Looking back ten years later, Arlette has no regrets about the decision that changed her life. Now she is in charge of two churches, Selah Methodist and Bethesda Methodist Church in St Lucy.
With hindsight she says the steps of preparation for her to immerse herself in the ministry had been in the works though she might not have been fully conscious of them.
“Whenever I went out of the island to work, I always tried to find a Methodist church. The first thing as I entered the hotel I would ask the receptionist, ‘Where is the nearest Methodist church?’ And if there wasn’t one, I would go to the Anglican or any other church,” she said. “The thing is I was holding positions in the church, so whenever I returned to Barbados, I would go back to the substantive positions. I believe God had it in His plan for me.”
Before Arlette had left her job she’d actually started a diploma in theology at Codrington College, because she was at a fairly senior level in her church as a congregational steward.
“As an officer I had the responsibility of being a class reader and I was expected to lead people, so I felt I needed to understand how to properly lead them,” she said. “So I was led to go to Codrington College for the diploma and that lasted two years part-time while working.”
Before fully going into ministry Arlette used to collect clothing and household items to help those in distress.
“I always had this thing for people, especially fire victims,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s because some years ago my sister lost her house to fire. But somehow I see it as so critical that you can have everything one minute and the next nothing. So after reading about a person’s plight in the newspaper I would call and try to find them and take things for them.”
Arlette was ordained on October 28, 2012, after a process of years of induction and then ordination.
“This year is ten years that I’ve left my job but I have no regrets,” she said. “When I was leaving my colleagues said to me ‘You’re going to drive up here every morning at 8 o’clock and watch the building and drive back down’, but I have not done it.”
Immediately after she came off she did go back to help out on different occasions during the merger of CIBC with Barclays.
“After about six months of calls from the bank I decided to help them out in December. I went back on the ninth of December, worked for exactly one month and took ill and was hospitalized for three days,” she revealed. “I said, ‘Lord, you called me to do your work and I’m not going back’.”
Along with working with the bank at the time, Arlette was also the circuit steward, the church’s highest administrative position.
“Maybe it was a bit too much or maybe God said, ‘This is not what I want you to do’,” she added.
Having made the decision to walk confidently in the direction God had called her, Arlette found that the path for her to make the transition was very smooth – as if God had paved the way.
Despite her role in leadership at church, she realizes that within herself she cannot accomplish what is necessary.
“I’ve recognized that there has to be a certain amount of dependency on God,” she says. “So before I do anything now I go to Him. The idea is to realize your reliance and dependency on God and that thought has really developed, particularly since I’ve been in the ministry.”
That reliance on God is necessary when she goes out and speaks to people who have undergone trauma, like the loss of a child or the loss of possessions to fire.
“In some cases the individuals are strong and it helps you,” Arlette said. “When I went to a lady who had lost three family members, she was so strong in the faith it helped me. But it is not easy and it can tell on you, but you have to be strong and grounded.”
Though she ministers to her congregations on Sundays and throughout the week, she gets great joy from going out and ministering to boys on the block.
“I am now seeing people where they’re at. I love my boys on the block, so I can now go and sit among them and talk to them and engage them because that’s where they’re at.
“You can’t get them to come into the church so I go out to them and it is amazing the foundation a lot of them have. Some of them boast about the recitations they used to do in Selah Methodist Church. So I have a relationship with them. The community work has always been part of me.”
While she has stepped away from the busyness of the corporate world, her days are still very busy. But now she balances her work with finding the time to get spiritually recharged. But her work now is all about God, about His call on her life and making sure He gets the glory.
“I realize this whole thing is not about me, so regardless of what persons do around me, it doesn’t move me because I know my focus, that I’m doing it for the Lord,” Arlette said. “There’s nothing that my Lord and I can’t do.”