Today during the Connectional Table address we heard from Hannah Foust, a 14 year old missionary who works for clean water around the world. One thing that kept sticking to me from her comments was her thanking the church for inspiring her and believing in her. She said that she came into her call because of pastors willing to “go out on a limb and let a little girl fill their pulpits.”
This was a great reminder for my heart, because the same was true for me. It is so easy to get down trotted and stuck on the places in the church and the world that are not built for all people. Especially watching the complicated and messy processes at GC that leave out or make difficult to include a lot of voices.
But I am also being continually reminded that God takes systems and circumstances that were not built for us, and transcends and subverts them to create something new and to call new people. Even in places where some of us are not always invited or always being taken seriously or always trusted to do a good job, The Spirit often invades.
For me, part of my call was having a retired Bishop and Annual Conference take the time to chat with me about college and ministry and my plans for the future. He later proclaimed to the entire Annual Conference that I was pursuing a career in ministry, something I had not yet sorted out. But the encouragement and counsel I received after that moment was really crucial to my discovering my call for myself too. So even in the confusion of a short conversation and the misreported prophecy from the podium, God was at work in an unexpected way.
Kylie Campbell is one of our young adults in Portland. Kylie first became involved in this kind of church work when she was a youth serving on the SPRC at her local church. Kylie remembers a review of the pastor where people were incredibly critical and she was surprised at how they treat hi, and each other looking back on it, Kylie says that she tries to handle church conflict with grace and remember that “there might be ugly things happening, but that doesn’t mean they are ugly people.” She says she tries to maintain her tender heart toward others
Ethan and Kevin Gregory have both been along for the ride with me since we were youth serving on Student Leadership Team together. So, personally, it is incredibly exciting to be serving together as adults now. Ethan graduates from Perkins tomorrow (from Portland!) and serves at Arborlawn. Ethan first became interested in policy and polity when he was a youth at Annual Conference, watching everyone elect delegates and prepare for GC 2008. While many people remember these types of elections as mostly a drag because they take so long, in that space God was planting a seed of a special passion for Ethan. Kevin remembers leading a prayer in his home church and first meeting his new pastor when she came to him and said “you know you’re called to ministry, right?” When Kevin told her had already been exploring that call she said, “it’s going to be great.”
This is he same hope I pray for to hold onto during GC and all the time. That we would cling to the gentle ways that God speaks to us in the mundane and the ugly and exciting and the beautiful. That we would have the humility to go out on a limb on behalf of people that God has created for all these places and purposes that are not easily accessible to them. And that we would have the trust and the enthusiasm to continually proclaim that “it’s going to be great.”