In Christianity, discernment is the process of determining God's desire in a situation or for one's life. In large part, it describes the interior search for an answer to the question of one's vocation, namely, determining whether or not God is calling one to ordained ministry or any other calling.
Over the first two days of August, 35 candidates discerning their call to ministry were engaged with an equal number of mentors and leaders in a Candidacy Summit of nearly 80 people, held at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, to discover God's call on their life and in what form that call would take. It is safe to say that all in the room were there because they had felt a pull toward ministry of some kind, and this weekend was spent learning and discovering how that call might be envisioned in each person's life.
With the theme of Baptism prevalent from the beginning, the summit began both mornings with worship. In between worship and meals and a bit of relaxing and sleeping, candidates stayed together in groups, each with two mentors, to talk, pray, listen and learn about what it means in a very personal way to be called to ministry.
Rev. Mebane McMahon, senior pastor of Northwest United Methodist Church in Columbus, gave the opening message - a message that was both significant and quite engaging, linking McMahon family antics with water balloons to the importance of launching blessings out to where people are. The prayer "remember your baptism" became her constant prayer during difficult times. During the service the candidates and mentors came forward to the altar, dipped their fingers in water, remembering their baptism, and picked up a key. The key was the "potential of you unlocked by grace and love in baptism." View Mebane's worship message on Baptism below.
Rev. Wade Giffin and Rev. Amy Aspey of the West Ohio Office of Ministry, walked through the steps to candidacy, a process that can be rather daunting and confusing, and helped to clarify the steps. In additition, the Office of Ministry provided speakers including deacons, elders, extension ministers, lay ministers and others to offer candidates insights into various ways to follow a ministry path. Experienced clergy from across the conference were mentors and guides that listened, prayed and offered personal insights into what their path had been like. Superintendents and Assistants to the Superintendent from districts also attended, meeting and talking with the candidates.
The message during worship on Saturday morning was brought by Rev. Curnell Graham, pastor at Gaines United Methodist Church in Cincinnati. Rev. Graham used the story of Paul to talk about call, how it comes about, what it means to live out a call to ministry. He encouraged the candidates to remember that you're here because "God is calling – you’ve answered, and you will be answering again and again. You will have doubts and insecurities, difficulties and challenges, be reminded of your past. But like Paul, you will be a new creation and you will answer the call from God each day." Watch Curnell's sermon on Call below.
Please keep all of the candidates in your prayers as they continue this journey.
Visit the West Ohio Facebook photo gallery for photos of the weekend. (You do not need to have a Facebook account in order to view the gallery.)