“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. “ – Frederick Buechner
Frederick Buechner’s well know quote on calling has resonated with me over the past seven or eight months. I can honestly say that it has taken me 46+ years to come to a clear understanding of my own calling in God’s kingdom.
Even as a teenager, I have always wanted to impact the lives of young people because I sensed the deep hunger in my peers. With my undergraduate degree in math education from NC State in hand, I ventured into public education as a teacher/coach for three years and I loved every minute of it. When I felt God leading me into full-time ministry as a youth minister, I hesitated because I didn’t want to lose the day-to-day interaction with the students.
Yet, I felt deep gladness in my ministry with young people in the churches I served as their youth minister, especially my years at Trinity Baptist in Raleigh. The relationships I still have with many of the young people who are now adults bring me great joy. Many days, I still long for the same type of relationships with young people and their parents.
In the midst of finishing up my Doctor of Ministry at Fuller Seminary in Youth, Family and Culture, (my plan was to be a life-long youth minister) I felt God pushing me out of my comfort zone and leading me into pastoral ministry. In following the leadership of the Holy Spirit (somewhat reluctantly), I experienced deep gladness in leading First-Albemarle to better care for their young people. I certainly enjoyed preaching, teaching, administrating (yes, even committee meetings) and leading the whole church but what brought me the greatest joy was watching God at work in changing the congregation to develop empathy and love for their young people inside and outside of the church.
Finally, when God (and Larry) came calling to take on a new role at CBFNC, I followed the call with lots of questions. Yet, as I reflect back on the short 17 months, I can see how I felt deep gladness in assisting many congregations across NC to revision what it means to welcome and care for young people in the 21st century. Sure, I was involved with lots of other work at CBFNC but I came to understand that the other meaningful work afforded me the opportunity to share about the changing ministry to young people.
So, after all these years, I can look back and see God’s handiwork in preparing me for my new role as the Director of Church Engagement at Fuller Youth Institute (FYI). FYI is an innovative branch of Fuller Theological Seminary that turns academic research into practical resources to help make the church the best place for young people to grow. My primary role will be to connect the churches throughout the country and even around the world to
the resources of FYI. It will include directing all cohorts and trainings for the many of FYI’s initiatives while providing strategic planning on FYI’s leadership team. Needless to say, I’m excited about this new challenge. God has been at work.
Yet with that excitement, I feel some sadness about leaving the team at CBFNC. In my short tenure as the Associate Executive Coordinator, I‘ve come to love the work of CBFNC and the people I have had the privilege of working with. Even with several recent transitions, the staff never missed a beat in making sure our clergy and laity of our churches were well supported. In addition, the relationships I’ve developed with fellow ministers across the state and lay leaders in our churches have been life-giving.
The CBFNC family will continue to see me around the state. In addition to the nature of my new role at FYI, I will serve as a contractor with CBFNC on a few areas of ministry in the interim until the staff and the Coordinating Council re-vision the ministry needs and how to fill them. I look forward to the continued relationships and being part of the CBFNC family for years to come.