Most of us already know that being a United Methodist is rooted in a history of methodical study and service in the early “societies” of students as Oxford University in England- among them, a leader named John Wesley- which led to our early moniker: Methodists. Even today, the process, requirements, and journey into ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church is filled with methodical study and service requirements that are not to be entered into lightly! Educational and experiential expectations are rigorous. The local church community is an integral part of this process, helping to shape, encourage, and offer discernment to those engaged on this path.
First United Methodist Church has been walking alongside men and women entering into ordained ministry for many, many years. In my own experience, this local church, this particular congregation was instrumental in my understanding of my own call into ordained ministry- as well as in my husband’s. I remember some of the “saints” who helped shape that early journey- Anne Sherman, Harriet Griffen, Faires Kuykendall, Jake Shelly, Sue Engellend, Gil Ferrell, C. C. Sessions – just to name a very few in a large community of persons who guided, nurtured, and challenged me in this process.
This Sunday, Casey Langley will be preaching as a part of her requirements for becoming an ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church. Casey already provides excellent leadership for our youth and their families as she serves as the Director of Youth Ministries and she brings her own insights and wisdom to the overall ministries of this congregation as a member of our program staff. She completed her educational requirements (Masters of Divinity and a Masters of Arts in Youth Ministry from Princeton Theological Seminary) before arriving at FUMC and is now completing additional steps toward ordination, which include service and experience in leadership. Any of us who know Casey or have worked with her know of her passionate commitment to our students and her respect for their wisdom, their searchings, and their struggles as they engage their own faith journey. She will bring that same passion to the pulpit this Sunday.
Each one of us as members of this congregation and the United Methodist Church are a part of the nurturing, guiding, and challenging component that shapes the leadership of the church, especially those who are still early in the process. As of today, FUMC is the sponsoring church for several ministerial candidates, including Casey, Kelly Anderson, Christie Tullis, Anna Troy, and Lance Marshall. Paul reminds us to be encouragers of one another as each one of us seeks to answer our own call to ministry in this world. It is a joy and a responsibility to be part of the community of faith surrounding those with encouragement as they answer their call to ordained ministry and leadership in the church. I look forward to seeing you in church this Sunday!