What does it look like to claim your call? This year, clergy from across Indiana gathered together at Clergy Covenant Day for worship, connection, and inspiration.
Clergy recognized all who have served in various intervals of mission and ministry and celebrated those who have completed Called to Fruitfulness before spending time wrestling with the idea of “call”. After all, aren’t we all called?
Rev. Ethan Maple shared an impassioned message on what it means to claim your call daily. “We are called to ministry, but we are also called into something greater. We are all called by God into relationship with Jesus Christ,” he said.
Rev. Maple admitted that clergy can get so wrapped up in their credentials as part of their identity that they lose sight of the foundation of their call. Rev. Maple, who planted Movie Theater Church in 2009, later blended their congregation with an older, established congregation at Mount Comfort UMC in 2019 when they needed a place to land. He now pastors the blended congregation of the two faith communities.
Continuing the time of encouragement and inspiration, Rev. Shannon Stringer and Rev. Tony Johnson talked about his ministry, which like Rev. Maple, is also a creative ministry appointment. Rev. Johnson shared that this path in ministry is different than what he anticipated.
“I thought it’d be more misery, and it’s not that,” he said. He acknowledged the need to recognize that ministry looks different in various contexts and that clergy aren’t meant to be and do all things. He challenged those in attendance to take note of how God has wired them in order to lead to a more fruitful ministry.
This was a lesson Rev. Johnson learned while serving in ministry over the years. He has allowed the space necessary for the flourishing ministry of LifeHouse Church, which exists to be one church in multiple locations. “You are wired how you are for a reason. Don’t get locked into the thought that you can’t do ministry differently,” said Rev. Johnson.
Rev. Johnson also encouraged clergy to not go it alone, saying, “It’s on you to invest in a relationship with other pastors.” He encouraged everyone to get together with fellow pastors in the denomination and in their communities for prayer, encouragement, connection.
Rev. Michelle Cobb shared about her ministry journey and how she has discerned and responded to God’s call over the years. Pastor Carolyn Kern shared about her willingness to trust and listen to the movement of the Holy Spirit as she lives out her calling as a Local Pastor. “God is more interested in my calling than my comfort,” she shared.
These moments of encouragement were broken up by times of discussion where clergy could answer questions such as, what new ministry trends interest you and what ministry passion has continued to burn with you across the years? As the day continued, clergy wrestled and discussed their callings throughout lunch and breakout sessions.
Bishop Julius C. Trimble shared a message from Luke 10:38-42 on the distractions of life that can cause us to lose focus.
“Some of us are traveling with things we don’t need,” he shared as he referenced a recent story from his trip to Africa University where he lost his boarding pass and wallet. He mentioned that he was so distracted by that one thing that he couldn’t get to where he was going; he was unable to move forward.
Bishop Trimble shared that, “The church is a living, breathing organism of God’s grace in real time.” He challenged clergy to consider that being missional “is more than just giving people bread to eat. It’s being in conversation and community and receiving the gifts of those who may never come into our church on a Sunday.”
The time together ended with the sharing of communion.