Last Saturday we had our first-ever Candidacy Retreat here in the Indiana Conference for persons who are just at the beginning of the process of exploring ministry in the United Methodist Church. This idea, which was first proposed by Rev. Sandy Harlan our Associate Director for Clergy Services, was a great way to follow up with persons who came forward during the “call to ministry” part of our ordination service at Annual Conference. It was also a great way to encourage persons who are just beginning the candidacy process into ordained ministry to receive help, encouragement, and connections with their district and conference leaders. We had over 30 candidates present, along with various mentors and other leaders. Some of the candidates were only in high school or college, others were second career. Some were persons from our various ethnic traditions, and some do not speak English as their first language. All came with energy and eagerness to learn about ministry.

I was privileged to present to the group about the basics of the UMC and our new Indiana Conference. Then we had excellent presentations from a team of persons who represented different types of ministry options: licensed local pastor, elder, deacon, extension ministry. Of course we had worship together and lunch, but the whole day was focused upon helping these person explore the various ways they can be in ministry.

Such opportunities for exploring ministry are wonderful ways for us to help identify the persons whom God is calling into ministry. Not all will enter ordained ministry, some will discover God’s call to be better lay leaders in their churches, and others may find other options. All of us, I believe, are called by God to discover God’s plan for our lives. By virtue of our baptism as Christians we all have a call to some form of ministry. Part of our task as a church is to help one another to explore, discern, and discover our own ministry.

I find such “exploration” events very encouraging, because I get to see first-hand the talented and diverse people whom God is calling. I get to hear their enthusiastic reports of God working in their lives. And I get a glimpse of the future of ministry in the UMC here in Indiana, and I see and hear their desire to serve God.

Please join me in praying for all those who are being “nudged” by God to step forward and serve the UMC.