I heard the Holy Spirit whispering in me, “I am a pastor. I am a pastor!” I heard the specific call to pastoring. Finally, I accepted, “Yes, I am a pastor.” Then I breathed, “Thank you.” And, “Help!”
When I told my parents that I was applying to seminaries, they were delighted, but not at all surprised. “Jacob,” my father said, “You could have gone to seminary at any time since you were fourteen years old. But everything you’ve done since then is going to make you such a better pastor.”
Even though I grew up surrounded by many pastors and was a church activist, my calling to ordination was a gradual process where God showed his patience to me, responding to His love and grace.
I have always felt the call to a life of service and never remember a time when I questioned that call as a goal for my life. My wife, Sharon, and I often experienced this call together. God’s call was the guiding force in my life’s trajectory, and I view this as simply my journey with God.
I thank God for His faithfulness and love as God waits for my response to His calling.
Every day, I am more convinced that the best way I can communicate God’s radical love is by helping others to realize that God embraces and cherishes them just as they are.
I knew God was sending me, and I knew that wherever He sent me, He would also be with me, as He always has been.
It sounds like I should already be retired by now but God still gives me the grace to be part of His story.
The adults in my life did not plant the seed. Rather, I believe God had planted it there and entrusted my community to water it and give it a chance to grow.
At the tender age of 22, I found myself ushered into a version of the gospel I still find appealing.
“Michael, until you stop telling God what you’re going to do and start listening for God to tell you what to do, you’re never going to understand God’s purpose for your life.”
I did not have a vision. I did not hear a voice. In fact, the further along I went, the more obstacles showed up as well as unexpected curves.
When was I called to vocational ministry? You may say I was always called, you may say I was never called.
“Of all the people I went to high school with, that’s the last guy I would have thought would become a pastor.”
I have seen the Lord confirm time and again where he wants me to be.
The outer call from the congregation blossomed through God’s grace into an inner call of deep joy.
My hardship pushed me to the point that I felt that only prayer could help me get through my problems at that time.
Serving in music and worship as well as pastoral care are the areas into which I have felt called and equipped.
I didn’t have a label for it, but I was on my way to becoming an Anabaptist.
I felt alive. I felt energized. This made sense. I remember praying, “God, give me passion if this is your will.”
by Lora Steiner, managing editor When Penny Naugle announced she was retiring after ten years as an elementary principal at Penn View Christian School in Souderton (Pa.) to become a […]
by Krista Showalter Ehst, Alpha Mennonite Church My calling into ministry did not come in a crystal-clear “Aha!” moment. I have friends and former seminary classmates who knew they were […]
by Carolyn Albright, Ripple Allentown Juanita is nine months pregnant. Her boyfriend, the baby’s father, is in hospice dying of cancer, and she’s about to be evicted from her apartment […]
by Phil Bergey, interim lead pastor at Blooming Glen Mennonite Church My work as an executive coach and process consultant requires me to travel around the country as I work […]
by Sandy Landes, Doylestown
Writing a call to ministry story is probably the last thing I ever expected to do if you would have asked me fifteen years ago. At that time in my life, I had doubts about the role of women in leadership and yet I was serving in different capacities in my home congregation, Doylestown Mennonite Church. As I look back on that time, I think the call to ministry had been brewing in my life for several years.
I am scheduled to be ordained into pastoral ministry February 9 at Souderton Mennonite Homes. It’s a service that affirms God’s call on me to lifelong ministry to the Church, and gives me the credentials and oversight to do so through the Franconia Mennonite Conference….
by Tami Good, Souderton
I have always had a sense of what it means to be called into service. My parents and grandparents modeled for me the importance of living out our faith through seeking God’s purpose for our lives. As my grandfather always said, “You don’t come to church to warm the benches.” Through his example and others I came to understand that walking with Christ is lived out daily as one shares her gifts with those around her. We are all ministers of the gospel as we build relationships and reach out as Christ’s hands and feet.
by Kris Wint, Finland
I had never fasted before. I had heard about it and even read about it, but, truthfully, I rather enjoy eating and so fasting was not a high priority. My curiosity was triggered, however, when I downloaded a new album from Flame and song eleven, appropriately titled “Daniel 10” opened with a pastor talking about the need for men and women to fast. As I listened to the album more and more, my curiosity grew more and more and my desire to fast grew more and more. But I did nothing.
by Joyce Hunsberger, Salford
Some of you older folks may remember the days before cell phones. When I was in college and wanted to talk to my parents, I put my finger in the dial (no buttons to push…) at “O” for operator and actually heard a real live voice ask “May I help you?” I would say “person to person collect call to Geraldine Willcox.” My mother had the option of accepting or refusing the call. I am glad to say that she always accepted her daughter’s call. Have I answered the right calls throughout my life?
by Josh Meyer
Born into a family with a rich spiritual heritage, I quite literally grew up in the Church. I was dedicated as an infant at a Baptist church. A few years later my mom was offered a job as the Director of Christian Education at a Lutheran church in the area. We worshiped and participated fully in the life of that church for most of my adolescent years. As I matured in my faith and grew in my relationship with Jesus, I began exploring other faith communities and ultimately attended a non-denominational and then a Brethren in Christ church during my high school years. While in college I attended a more charismatic Vineyard church, and upon graduation joined the pastoral staff at a United Methodist Church.
I’m grateful for this diverse religious background, particularly because it has taught me one of life and ministry’s most important truths: it’s about Jesus. Whether it’s a Baptist, Lutheran, non-denominational, Vineyard, United Methodist, or Anabaptist church, what ultimately matters is the death and resurrection of Jesus. I’ve been influenced by a number of different theological traditions, but most importantly, I’ve been influenced by the person and work of Christ. It’s this influence, this relationship, that drives and sustains me, that gives me life and hope and meaning and purpose, and that I’m pursuing with everything I have and all that I am.
by KrisAnne Swartley, Doylestown
Pastors’ children tend to have two reputations: rebellion or following in the footsteps of their parents (never mind all the kids in between). From the time I was young, I fell into the latter category, strongly drawn to my father’s calling and work. My connection to God was real and tangible to me, very much alive in my interior world. I followed that inner leading readily, preaching my first sermon as a teenager and studying ministry in college.
As a fresh college graduate, with all the energy and optimism that implies, I began my first professional ministry position. And I made mistakes. I began to wonder if I had heard God’s call correctly. Were my weaknesses too obvious? Was I too passionate? Too opinionated? Too feminine or not feminine enough?
by Derek Cooper, Deep Run East
Growing up in the piney woods and ranch-covered hills of East Texas, I deliberated between two potential careers: world domination, that is to say, being a politicking lawyer, and global espionage, perhaps serving as a CIA officer who worked covertly in some ivy-covered medieval castle in Ghent or Prague.
Now snugly in my thirties, it turns out that I have yet to find a way to control the world. Nor have I yet traveled to Ghent or Prague. Instead, my days are comprised of changing dirty diapers on the youngest of my three children, who laughs mockingly every time I mention that toilets are all the rage; leading and participating in a continual cycle of meetings; having lunch at very German-sounding restaurants with local pastors; teaching and counseling seminary students; and writing Christian books whenever I can snatch the time. When I get home after a busy day of work, my wife and I talk about our day and then I play dolls with my two girls. Almost every night, instead of chasing down international gun-smugglers in a black-and-white tuxedo, I run after my son until I fall down from premature middle-age or until I trip over a Barbie Doll who is taking a joyride on a miniature camouflaged jeep.
by Ben Wideman, Salford
I am a child of the Mennonite world – my parents met while doing Voluntary Service in Mississippi and were married soon after. Believe it or not, I was even born on the day of our area Mennonite Central Committee relief sale! My parents recognized the value in bringing me up with the church as an extension of my family system.
by Kirby King, Minister of Adult Formation at Souderton Mennonite Church
To speak about call in my life for church work requires that I speak about my call to teach at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School as well as my call to become a licensed leader of Adult formation at Souderton Mennonite Church. Both calls are so inter-twined that I cannot separate them.
John Stoltzfus, Campus Youth Minister, Christopher Dock Mennonite High School My call to ministry did not happen in one place or time but pursued me from my childhood in Morgantown […]
Sheryl (Hurst) Duerksen, Principal, Quakertown Christian School I grew up on my family farm in Bowmansville, Pa. Through my parents and extended family, I learned the language of love. For an […]
by Scott Franciscus, Covenant Community From an early age, church has played an important part in my life. Growing up in the Episcopal Church, which followed a consistent liturgy, and […]
Verle Brubaker, Swamp, firstname.lastname@example.org I fled Him down the nights and down the days I fled Him down the arches of the years I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways Of […]
Ubaldo Rodriguez, New Hope Fellowship Baltimore, email@example.com I am glad that the Lord called me when I was a teenager. I believe nowadays that listening to God’s call is hard because […]
by Noah Kolb, Plains Three ordinations in 30 days—this is probably the most ordinations Franconia Conference has ever had in one month! These ordinations bear witness to God’s Spirit at […]
Klaudia Smucker, Bally firstname.lastname@example.org “I am not planning on preaching,” I told one of my seminary professors. “I’m more interested in pastoral care and counseling.” “Ask your minister anyway, and […]
Bob Thompson with Gay Brunt Miller email@example.com In the fall of 1998, Ann Angelichio, a 16-year Liberty Ministries prison volunteer, called the church where I served as an elder. She […]
by Samantha Lioi, Whitehall firstname.lastname@example.org Call is a slippery word in divine-human relations, and there are always at least two in this tango: God can be slippery as we look […]
by Sheldon C. Good, Salford email@example.com As a child, Ertell M. Whigham, Jr. loved his tight-knit community in North Philadelphia. But by senior year at Simon Gratz High School, he […]
Franco Salvatori, Rocky Ridge firstname.lastname@example.org When I was just a young kid my older brother and I shared a room. One night he asked me that great Campus Crusade question. “If […]
Rose Bender, Whitehall email@example.com I was seven and afraid of hell. On the last night of a Billy Graham sponsored revival, in the gym of the public high school, I […]
Connie Detwiler, Lakeview After receiving his MDiv, my husband told me, “Hon, we are on an adventure.” Here I am fifteen years later, shaking my head in wonder and commenting […]
Joseph Hackman, Salford When I was young I heard much about a milk truck. My grandfather purchased a milk truck in 1947 and converted it to a bookstore on wheels. […]
Donna Merow, Ambler Edward Albee wrote, “Sometimes it’s necessary to go a long distance out of the way in order to come back a short distance correctly.” This describes my […]
Arnold Derstine, Franconia My call to ministry has similarities to my first experience with a high ropes course as a young adult leader nearly 15 years ago. My great fear […]
Wayne Speigle, Bally When I was a kid I had an imaginary friend, which embarrassed me later because it seemed weird. Maybe it was, but it got me used to […]
Eva Kratz, Franconia firstname.lastname@example.org I get my excitement and zest for life from studying and sharing God’s word that brings life, from my husband, our children and grandchildren and friends.I […]
Mary Nitzsche, Blooming Glen email@example.com As a child, I loved to play church with my sister. We sang songs of faith, read scripture and I “preached.” It was not in […]
Firman Gingerich, Blooming Glen firstname.lastname@example.org In my late 20’s our pastor at Kalona Mennonite Church, Howard Keim, invited me to participle in a leadership apprentice relationship with him. Over several […]
Lorie Hershey, West Philadelphia email@example.com I enjoyed dancing in my youth and now with my children, but it is not something I do in the presence of many. And yet […]
Mike Ford firstname.lastname@example.org My journey to become the Senior High Youth Pastor at Franconia Mennonite Church started with an innocent conversation over a year ago with Marlene Frankenfield, Franconia Conference […]
Angela Moyer email@example.com I have described my calling experience or path of intersection with God like a cell phone ring tone. You don’t hear it at first, but then it […]