Bonnie Chappell, Guest Blogger, Candidate for Ordination
I have imagined myself in a lot of different professions over the course of my life. The following is a chronological list of aspirations: actor, mother, singer, advice columnist, writer, lawyer, librarian, professor, editor. But in all my years of attending church and studying religion, even through seminary and beyond, I never imagined myself as a pastor. That dream developed recently, largely as a result of my relationship with this church and its people. With you.
You welcomed me into your fellowship and gave me a place to belong. You loved my family, and you reminded me of the importance of community, of shared joys and sorrows and commitments. You invited me to serve on committees and in the ministries of the church. I enjoyed being helpful in the background, but you began to ask me to do things out in the open—to teach your Sunday school classes, to speak at Wednesday night programs, to be the deacon of the week on occasion. When you asked me to serve as chair of deacons, I was stunned, but I trusted that you saw something in me that was worth exploring. I’m so grateful that you did. The work of envisioning a future for the church and of navigating the path toward full inclusion has been deeply meaningful. I’m proud to have been part of it.
Your faith in me has allowed me to trust parts of myself I’ve known were there but have been afraid to use. You helped me find the courage to speak up, to lead, and even to preach. When my family called on me to officiate funerals last year, including that of my beloved grandmother, I believed that I was capable because you had given me the confidence and the practice I needed to offer presence and comfort in a tender new setting. Now that we’ve moved to a new city in a new state, where every setting is unfamiliar, I trust that I will be equal to whatever tasks lie ahead.
I don’t know what’s next for me, not specifically. But I know that I want to do God’s work. I approach my ordination with an open heart and open hands, ready to receive the assignment God has in store. Thank you all for calling out gifts I would have left hidden. For calling me a minister before I was ready to imagine myself in that role. For nurturing me and loving me and affirming me. For being my church. I will carry your support and encouragement with me throughout my ministry journey, grateful that you helped me take the first step.