Called & Sent

Participating in the Peace

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. –Ephesians 2:14

As I have travelled to different parts of the world, met many people and worked at different churches, I have witnessed time and time again God uniting groups that appear to have nothing in common.  My experience of calling has not been to a specific church or hospital.  I feel called when I participate.  I feel called when I witness the power of God’s peace breaking down all human differences, and I want to take part.  When I’m surrounded by inspiring people who never let anything get in the way of their love for others, I feel called.  My calling has come from within, after moments of witnessing the uniting power of God’s peace. 

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I’ve been thinking about home a lot.  By “home” I mean the concept of home.  You see, I just moved from Tennessee to Washington.  My husband and I recently set up the apartment and we placed decorative letters spelling the word “home” on a shelf.  Most of our things remained in boxes, the walls were bare, our nostrils were filled with that newly washed carpet smell, and yet we put “home” on the shelf.  We were very careful to make sure that every letter was straight and we cocked our heads to the left and right to double check.  Is Washington home?

I’m from Florida and in fact, four years ago, I moved from Florida to Tennessee.  Whenever I visit Florida for special occasions—graduations, weddings, babies, Christmas—my siblings text me things like, “I can’t wait for you to come home tomorrow!”  I’m greeted on Sunday mornings at church by surrogate grandparents who hug my neck and say “Glad you’re home!”  Is Florida home?

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Ministry on the "Outside"

I knew I was entering a different chapter in my calling when a colleague said to me, “Well, we’ll miss you in ministry.” 

I had finished 5 years of part-time staff work, 7 years of full-time pastoral work, and a year of schooling and interning in human rights/justice work. I was taking what we in The United Methodist Church call an extension ministry position, the kind of description the Book of Discipline assigns you when you’re appointed to a ministry like hospital chaplaincy or judicatory leadership.  Or, like me, community organizing for an international advocacy organization. 

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This New Call

I miss my kids.

No, I don’t have any children of my own, adopted, biological or otherwise. Instead, I had a church’s children to call my own—a whole bunch of them. From the babies to the high school students, they were mine.

I was in seminary and Lawrenceville First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was looking for a staff person for their children’s programming; I later took on youth programming as well. It worked out well for all of us.

It was in that church and among those kids that I heard and answered a call to ordained ministry. It doesn’t take much to get me to tell the entire wonderful, holy, absurd story-one that includes my general distaste for children. 

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Talking About God, Money, and Giving: A Testimony and Tutorial for Pastors

Editor's Note:This article is one in an occasional series called "All About the Benjamins," running this fall on Fidelia's Sisters. As many congregations and organizations are running stewardship campaigns and lining up budgets for 2012, we'll be taking a look at the sometimes-taboo topic of money, and the roles it plays in our ministries.

I always feel nervous when I preach about money. And I always feel nervous when my church enters our annual campaign each fall. It’s hard to ask my people to give money to the church without feeling as though I’m standing in the pulpit next to Caesar and a gaggle of televangelists. A pastor asking for money, in my mental catalogue of associations, sounds like Reverend Huckster with her Lear Jet, not a teacher, counselor, or spiritual guide. But I’m trying to teach myself that a follower of Jesus can also be someone who knows how to talk capably about money, giving, and ministry.

First, I try to remember that an annual stewardship campaign isn’t really about money. It’s not about duty, our budget, or a church’s survival. It’s about deepening our relationships: with each other, with our ministries, and with God. It’s about demystifying money as a topic for church teaching and Christian practice, both for your congregation and, gulp… for you.

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Not Called and Unsent?

Editor's Note:This article is one in an occasional series called "All About the Benjamins," running this fall on Fidelia's Sisters. As many congregations and organizations are running stewardship campaigns and lining up budgets for 2012, we'll be taking a look at the sometimes-taboo topic of money, and the roles it plays in our ministries.

Dear Sisters,

I realize that the occasion for my letter places me in great danger of being labeled with some of the least honorable epithets of our age: a whiner, a free-loader, and the most hurtful of all, lazy.  But it is a truth that I cannot escape.  I am unemployed.  And though my husband isn’t (and yes, I realize that having a partner gives security that my single friends, and especially single-parent friends, do not have), I am dragging my family down this lonely path toward insolvency, despite my best efforts to prevent it. 

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An Irrepressible and Irresistible Call

I heart books 2 They say, “write what you know.”  And the two things I have always known are books and church. My dad has been a Baptist minister all my life, so church has been a part of the normal routine; church members have been like extended family.  Likewise, shelves and stacks of books filled our home.  Both my parents read voraciously, and they tell me stories of reading to me before I was born.  I would like to think that this influence is more than coincidental to my voracious love of books from a young age.  As constants in my young life, church-going and books translated into a life dedicated to education and the work of the church.  Because these passions have followed me as I have grown, learned, and matured, it is difficult to point to a “starting point” of faith.  I see both my Christian faith and intellectual interests as interconnected pieces of a journey of seeking, listening, trusting, sharing, and ultimately of calling.

Growing up, I loved going to church. The fact of life for a preacher’s kid of, “being-at-church-when-the-doors-were open,” rarely felt like a burden; church was my home.  Though I grew up across the street from the Southern Baptist Seminary as it was shifting away from its moderate-liberal theological roots to the more fundamentalist stronghold it is today, and though I do not remember hearing a woman preach until I was in college, no one ever told me that I “could not” do anything. Despite having few examples from which to draw, it never occurred to me that a woman couldn’t or shouldn’t do anything, or everything, that men did, including ministry.

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That Darn Collar

Hours after receiving my denomination’s final approval for ordination a little over a year ago, I began pouring over catalogs and websites trying to decide what type of clergy shirts to order. Long sleeve or short sleeve? All black or a mix of colors? The amount of time I spent doing this is quite ridiculous considering there are very few options to begin with and the prices are steep.

Once I received the shirts and collars in the mail I figured the hardest part of the whole collar-thing was done. Wrong. The second time I donned that sweat-inducing piece of plastic around my neck after my ordination, I had my first (and rather rude) awakening to the public/private tension of being a priest. After guest preaching at friend’s church, I stopped at a local Exxon station to get some gas and use the restroom. As a matter of fact, I didn’t need gas as much as I needed to empty my bladder. Normally, I refuse to use gas station restrooms, but I had a three-hour drive ahead of me. It couldn’t wait.

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On Removing the "Y" From "YCW"

A couple of years ago, I applied to be a commissioner to our denomination’s General Assembly. After glancing at the essay questions, I went back to the top of the form to fill out the easy stuff: Name… Address… Phone… Email… Gender… Ethnicity… Age…

The “Age” line had several ranges to choose from. I began scanning the numbers with some smugness—This will be my ace in the hole! They’re always looking for young people to go to these things—until I realized which box I would need to check at age 37:

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To and From


It’s been exactly a year since my family and I packed up the parsonage, dropped the car off at the freight yard, and departed from the Long Beach Airport at the height of jacaranda season. We had tickets for a one-way flight to Chicago (one made quite memorable by my scrambling to get my last Called and Sent column written by deadline). We left California because we wanted to. My husband and I are both deeply Midwestern, and eight years in Los Angeles County was enough for us.

But we also left California because we were called. I felt the spiritual equivalent of an electric shock when I read the classified ad in the back of the Christian Century describing an associate ministry position in a suburb of Chicago. I paid attention; such jolts of knowing are few and far between. My gut-level response was confirmed throughout the long discernment process, and to my great relief and joy, the search committee came to the same conclusion.

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