Fire was involved in Lynn Martin's first career, and in her new calling she will sometimes talk about fire and brimstone.
As a captain with the Columbus Department of Fire and EMS, she cared for people and listened to people. As the pastor of the Richland United Methodist Church, she will do the same.
She steps into the pulpit in Stewart County on June 10, which is moving day for ministers in the Methodist church. Martin has written three sermons, and she isn't sure which one she'll deliver.
"I'll let the Holy Spirit guide me," she said.
Never miss a local story.
Martin has a Bible full of Scriptures she can use. Or she could tell them the story of her unusual journey to the ministry.
Relating her story, she remembered a sign at the Upatoi United Methodist Church, which she often passed on her way to work with the fire department.
"It said a coincidence is God being anonymous, and that is what my life has been."
Finding her first job was totally accidental.
"It came after me, a horse and a tree limb had a collision," she said.
Her ride in an ambulance led her to join the Taylor County Emergency Medical Services. That led her to Columbus EMS. She transferred to the fire department in 1994
"I was burned out on EMS, and the interim fire chief recruited me. They needed women and they took a chance on me," Martin said.
There were only four women in the department and she moved through the ranks. She established and trained the honor guard and was with them when they laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery.
She was promoted to captain in 2008 and was soon immersed in the budget-making process. But other things were churning inside.
"I realized I was being called to do something. I just didn't know what."
She studied at the Candler School of Theology in Atlanta and became a certified lay minister. On the last day of April, she retired from the fire department, not realizing how quickly she would be assigned to a church.
"Yes, I'm excited. And this is the first time I've had enough sense to be scared. In the past I could just break through a door. But I know God will put firmness under my feet."
-- Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.