Is there anything kids nowadays can’t do? Well, there may be a few, but becoming an ordained minister and leading a church isn’t one of them. 11-year-old Ezekiel Stoddard recently made headlines after he was ordained a minister at the Fullness of Time Church in Maryland.
We’ve featured a few prodigies on Oddity Central, like the world’s youngest computer wiz, the 9-year-old Monet, a 10-year-old sake expert, but we’ve never had a child minister. That changes today, as we introduce Ezekiel Stoddard, an 11-year-old ordained minister who has apparently been writing his own sermons since he was seven. “It doesn’t matter the age that you can be licensed. It just matters … how much word do you have and how much God has called you,” the enthusiastic child of God told the Washington Post. Still, he admits sometimes adults don’t take him seriously and “look at me like I’m a joke and I need to sit down.”
Photo: Washington Post video caption
Ezekiel officially became a minister last month, at his family’s independent Pentecostal church, in Temple Hills, Maryland, where his parents are also pastors. The young boy says knew he was destined to become a pastor after God called him in a dream, two years ago, when he was just 9 years old. That was about the time when he started studying the Bible and writing his own sermons. Ezekiel and three other siblings are home-schooled by his mother, who says “He can go to the bible and pull a text and prepare a sermon. That’s in his heart.That’s how he feels about the ministry, about Jesus, about the community.” She has a lot of confidence in her child’s abilities as a pastor and says that although he does child-like things, when it comes to God he is very serious.
Photo: Adrienne Smith/ABC
Zeke, as his family calls him, has lots of normal hobbies for his age, like basketball, tennis and going to the movies, but he also spends about 3 -4 hours a day studying the Bible and preparing his sermons. He is aware that many people believe his parents are forcing him to do it, but he’s quick to dismiss these rumors, saying he wants to do this for the rest of his life. The 11-year-old minister preaches the 11 a.m. service at the Fullness of Time Church, a growing congregation in Capitol Heights, but he also preaches the word of God at other churches around the Maryland region.
Richard Balmer, professor of American religious history at Dartmouth college, says cases of children becoming ministers are unusual, but not unheard of. He warns that “there have been child preachers through the decades, and more than one of them has grown up to be quite embittered by the experience and turned away from the faith.” This should serve as a cautionary tail for anyone who to be ordained at a very young age. “Just as you don’t have 11-year-old lawyers, or 11-year-old positions, there’s a general sense that you need a certain maturity in order to function effectively in that role,” Balmer adds.