The die is cast...
As I may have said in a previous post, the first step in my journey to answer the call to ministry is a year long discernment period with others in my faith community. Well (deep breath) I'm ready to take that first step, so I just wrote my letter to my Church Council requesting that a Discernment Committee be set up! Drum roll and loud applause!!! Woohoo - go me!!!
Such a committee consists of the inquirer (me), three members of my own congregation (one that I name, two that my Church Council names), and one or two members of Presbytery (the layer of the UCC hierarchy above individual church and pastoral charge.) Valerie and I have already talked about who would be good from our congregation...people that I feel comfortable and secure with, and who I can also trust to be honest with me and say what needs to be said, to ensure this is right both for me and for the wider church. Val herself cannot be on the committee for two reasons: committee members cannot be ministry personnel serving in the inquirer's pastoral charge, nor can they be people with whom the inquirer is in a relationship. And to be honest, I feel this part of my journey needs to be my own so thinking it's best not to have my best friend on the discernment team.
According to the UCC booklet Discerning a Call to the Order of Ministry, the discernment period "provides an opportunity for the congregation and the individual to reflect on ministry and call, to discern gifts for specific ministries, to understand the expectations of the church, and to discern together how the individual will respond to God's call." I am really looking forward to this time of exploration and discovery!!!
The booklet also says "It is important for all members, including the inquirer, to leave behind preconceived outcomes of the process. Discernment requires a willingness to be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to be silent, to speak, and to listen to others and God's wisdom." Which is rather strange in a way...I am entering a period specifically to discern a call to ministry, and yet the very discerning of that call requires that I leave behind my preconceived notions of ministry. On the other hand, this openness to being led in unexpected directions, wherever the Spirit takes me, resonates deep in my being. Having said all that...the voice in my heart is singing a song of ministry loud and clear! :)
Anyway...my letter is written, and I've filled out my section of the appropriate form DIS201, and tomorrow I'll give those documents to Valerie so she can bring them to Council (at least I assume that's how it goes.) Slightly alarming is the fact that the next Council meeting is also our church's Annual General Meeting (AGM) on March 7...so it would seem my intentions will be made known to everyone in my congregation, and not simply to those few who make up the Executive of Council. Yikes! Hopefully the response will be positive (not that I have any reason to expect otherwise, but one never knows in these larger group settings...) Of course, I could wait and submit my request to Council at their next regular meeting, but Val thinks that is not until April and I don't want to wait that long. (I don't think she can wait that long either, she's as excited as I am about this!)
It has been interesting for me to hear people's reactions to my news...as I said to Valerie this afternoon, it's really cool to see myself through their eyes. Surprisingly only one person has asked me "why?" Not in a sarcastic way, simply trying to understand why I want to do this...I answered that I feel like I can make a difference in the world, I feel like I can touch people's lives...and if I can do those things, then how can I not? Ok, that's cool, my friend replied. Took me 45 years to feel this way about what I am doing with my life, but just goes to show is never too late to find your passion!! God really does work in mysterious ways :)
[Edited at 11pm to add: Woohooooo!!!! Dave's finally home after being in Toronto for a week. I really missed him this week, was feeling kind of adrift in all my mental wandering without his anchoring presence!]