March 15, 2017
If I had to identify a precise moment when I “heard” the call to professional Ministry, it would be Sunday, October 15, the year I was 24... in worship at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens, Georgia. I began looking at divinity school applications the following week, and was enrolled a year later.
But the seeds of that call were planted much earlier – more than 10 years earlier, when I was a pre-teen in the Wilmington Island United Methodist Church in Savannah, Georgia – when church leaders first began inviting me into the ministry of the church.
When I was still in elementary school, Mrs. Herrington invited me to be an acolyte – it was such an honor to don the white robe and carry the flame into the sanctuary at the beginning of worship, and to extinguish the altar candles at the end. As an acolyte, I helped serve communion occasionally, too. Around that same time, I began singing in the Junior Choristers (and later the Youth Choir), through which Mrs. Roth, the music director, cultivated a love of liturgical music. We understood ourselves to be an integral part of the church’s worship experience. Once I entered middle school, I joined the youth group (there were two – Junior High and Senior High), which soon became the center of my adolescent world. In high school, Rev. McAfee invited me to serve as youth representative on the church council, and occasionally I did the scripture reading in worship, and I was asked to be an assistant teacher in the preschool Sunday School class.
Throughout it all, it was clear that I was a member of that community – one whose presence mattered, not merely as a child who needed to learn the ways of the church, but as a contributing and valuable member who had gifts to offer.
Every year as we approach the Sundays when our YRUU (Young Religious Unitarian Universalists) or Quest (Coming of Age) groups are going to lead worship at UUCC, I think with great fondness and gratitude of those early days of my life, as the seeds of ministry were being planted and nurtured in me.
I hope to see all of you in worship this Sunday, March 19, for our YRUU services, and again on Sunday, May 21, for the Quest credo services – not because these youth are our future, but because they are our present; not (only) because they need us, but because we need them. They have much to offer, and we are wise to listen and to hear.
See you there,