My call story has no light bulbs

Today in the world of UMC Young Clergy Blogs we’re invited to share our stories of God’s calling us into ministry. They’re linked here and will hopefully provide encouragement to others who might be hearing God’s call to ministry.

Are you discerning a call into ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church? If you’re between 18-24 years old, we invite you to check out Exploration 2009 in Dallas this November. More info here.

Here is my story:

There are no lights bulbs in the story of my call. Others can name a physical place where they were sitting when God called them to ministry. Instead of a single flash of insight, I have been aware throughout my entire life that God is shaping and forming me for servant ministry.

My faith journey began early. I was baptized as an infant in both the Roman Catholic and United Methodist traditions. My maternal grandparents advocated that I be trained in the Roman Catholic faith, but due to scheduling I usually attended my father’s United Methodist Church. My parents supported my exploration of faith by encouraging me to participate fully in the UMC, but also in programs at Baptist, Free Evangelical, and Episcopal churches. Being active in so many different churches allowed me to explore what was the same and what was different between denominations. I developed an academic interest in church in addition to my spiritual interest.

During the eighth grade Sunday School class at Cherrydale United Methodist Church, in Arlington, Virginia, our teacher, Dottie Early, attempted to help us “Meet God, Greet God, and Lean on God.” Learning about the spiritual walks of my peers helped me realize that because each person is created differently we experience God in a variety of ways. My passion is to help people from young to old discover how they experience God’s presence in their lives.

Initially, I thought my passion for spiritual formation meant that I should serve as a director of Christian Education and my studies in college were with that goal in mind. During my study abroad experience at Oxford University I heard the distinct call to incorporate mission work into my ministry. Just when I could envision my future life in response to God’s call to full time Christian Service, I attended Virginia’s Exploration 2002. That experience stirred up a calling toward ordination. I also realized that my calling isn’t a static message that just needs clarification, but rather a continual conversation with God regarding life’s journey.

I entered the candidacy process in order for discernment as an ordained deacon in Christian education or in music. For one year I served as a ministry intern at Annandale United Methodist Church. Working there allowed me to explore the professional areas of the church, specifically the areas of music and education. In tandem with prayer and mentoring, that internship opened my heart to the calling of ordination as an elder.

My passions for music and spiritual formation are indeed assets to the role of an elder in the United Methodist Church, but they are not the foundations of my call to ordination. Living a life of interpretation is what I feel God has placed on my heart. The responsibility of engaging scripture for interpretation to a community, living in relationship with others as a companion for the faith journey, involvement with mission work, and working for social justice are all part of my life of interpretation. Looking for God’s presence in everyday life, and exploring this presence in the lives of other people is important to my call as an elder. Administering the sacraments and exploring God’s mysterious presence as a reality in our world is important to my sense of call to ministry.

During my last year of seminary I was leading worship at my field education site one Sunday morning and felt peace wash over – a sense that I was exactly where God called me to be, and that I had a lifetime of opportunity to continue living out that calling. I look forward continuing to grow as I walk with the people in my current community toward living a deeper and richer life that bears the reality of God’s presence in our life and in our world.

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