When I was 10 years old, I attended a church camp at Seneca Hills near Franklin, PA. The speaker that year was a missionary by the name of Hudson Hess. I can’t remember a thing about what he spoke about, only that I was riveted by his experiences of putting his faith fully in God. On Thursday of that week, he gave an invitation to 10, 11, and 12 year old students who might feel that God was calling them into ministry. I went forward.
I thought that God was calling me to be a missionary. I read every book I could about missions. As a teenager, I realized the impact my pastor had in my life. I felt that God was calling me to youth ministry- which is where I served for my first 5-6 years out of college. During that time, God was allowing me to spread my wings within my church setting and take leadership on a larger scale. From designing and leading worship gatherings, to preaching, to leading mission trips- there was fruit on a bigger scale than youth ministry. With that, I entered the Candidacy Process for the United Methodist Church.
I’ve now been appointed as a Student Pastor (almost through seminary!) at Avenue Church in Milford, Delaware for the last 3 years. This is the same church I did youth ministry in, so I have been here a little over 9 years. While here, I have seen the many joys and frustrations of following your calling. Let me list a few.
- It is so exciting to get to do something that God has laid on your heart and that you are passionate about. It is even more exciting when that passion yields fruit in your life and the lives of others.
- There is great opportunity for the harvest and is a joy to be a part of that harvest.
- There are people you meet along the way who inspire and encourage you. I have met some friends through this process that will be friends for a lifetime.
- The process of being ordained in the UMC is so long. I see other friends in other denominations given awesome leadership opportunities at a much younger age while I have to work through the process. I began the ordination process at 26 and might be able to be ordained before 35. (I’m 30 right now.)
- Our conference in more rural and less open to innovation and new ideas. I don’t feel our conference knows how to utilize their young clergy.
- Again, speaking for my experience only, the older clergy have not been real welcoming.
- In an associate position, it is difficult to try out new ideas that the senior pastor is not on board with- which can sometimes stifle creativity.
That said, I am committed to God and to my call. I am excited about the possibilities that lie ahead of me in ministry and I know that there is joy in the journey.