by Jennifer Svetlik, Salford congregation
As a pastor’s kid and, later, a pastor, Leadership Minister, and Interim Director of Communication, Emily Ralph Servant has had a heart for pastors since she was a teenager. “I have a passion for the Church, regardless of the bumps and bruises I’ve experienced in it,” reflects Emily.
Soon after college, she observed the work of conference staff and felt drawn to their ministry of caring for and resourcing pastors and congregations. “Conference ministry was a dream for me long before [then Executive Minister] Ertell Whigham asked me to join the staff [in 2011],” shares Emily. “This particular conference is where I was raised up as a leader, called, and ordained, and I love the spirit of our conference and what God has been and is doing here.”
As Communication Director, Emily is responsible for building community within the conference by sharing stories from congregations, leaders, staff, and Conference Related Ministries. She coordinates the “nitty-gritty work” of communication and shapes the language and media that the conference uses to help live its priorities of being missional, intercultural, and formational.
As a Leadership Minister, Emily serves as a companion and guide to pastors and congregations during both the ordinary rhythms of church life and during times of transition or conflict. In this role she helps church leadership to think strategically as well as pastorally, and she serves as a sounding board for ideas and dreams and as a resource for networking and community-building.
“I love listening to stories and asking questions that help to shift perspective or lead to ‘a-ha!’ moments,” Emily says. She recently joined the conference’s missional priority team, which allows her to help congregations “live and love like Jesus” in their neighborhoods.
Emily grew up all over southeastern PA after her father entered the ministry when she was in elementary school. She entered ministry for herself as a young adult. “I saw both the best and the worst of the church,” she reflects. “I observed when things went well and when conflict erupted. That prepared me to work with congregations in conflict, transition, and decline.”
Emily has always been creative, using her vivid imagination to write stories, music, and plays. She started leading music as a teenager and had a vision for “blending” worship in new ways that went beyond mixing traditional hymns with praise songs. While serving as a worship minister of Swamp congregation (Quakertown, PA), she became involved with Conference Assembly worship planning and helped form an intercultural cohort of worship leaders from around the conference who wanted to learn one another’s music and build relationships. Multilingual and intercultural worship is still one of her favorite parts of conference life.
Emily and her husband, Ryan, parent two toddlers, so she spends a lot of time “reading books, giving kisses, and cleaning food off the floor.” Her family enjoys connecting with their neighbors in northeast Baltimore city. She is on a journey to zero waste, so she cans produce from local farms, cooks mostly from scratch, and sews (very badly).
She also loves to upcycle, reusing discarded objects to create something new. “It allows me to express my creativity and do something with my hands, to lower our impact on the environment, and to connect with neighbors (our local Buy Nothing group is a great source of material for upcycling!)” reflects Emily. “Upcycling is a reflection of the image of God in me: God can take things from our lives that look and feel like junk and transform them into something useful and, even, beautiful.”