Leaders Share A Call to Ministry at Candidacy Summit

Date Posted: 8/11/2016

Over 80 candidates began the exploring phase of ministry this month at the annual Candidacy Summit.
“My take from the Candidacy Summit weekend is that no matter where you are called, you must just know you are called and that God is continuing to write your story,” shares Timothy Coman, youth pastor at First UMC Dayton who knows his personal story is always subject to new chapters. “My journey for ministry actually began 25 years ago after coming to a conversion experience in Christ,” he shares. “I worked in parachurch ministry for more than 10 years before starting in church ministry, and have been serving in family and student ministry since then. I truly feel God is about to open a new door, a time to get out of the boat of comfort as Peter was and walk on some water...and I felt a strong pulling and calling to share my heart and passion with the entire church. While I will always support students, I truly believe God's calling is expanding to include pastoral ministry. I am presently looking towards the local pastor route, but this could change down the road, as God directs my journey and story.” 
Rev. Elizabeth Duffin, Associate Director of the Texas Conference Center for Clergy Excellence explains that the “Candidacy Summit is the first step in our process of discernment of call.” Adds Elizabeth, “At the Summit, we introduce candidates to both lay and pastoral ministry models – certified lay ministry, licensed local pastor, deacon, and elder. They begin meeting in exploring ministry groups with an exploring mentor who will walk with them through this year as a means of discernment.”
During the Summit, there is worship, time for small groups, and workshops on different models of ministry. Rev. Meredith Wende Mills, the new Dean of Mentors for the Board of Ordained Ministry, oversees the various people in charge of the different stages of the candidacy process. Rev. John Black, pastor of Angleton First UMC is one such mentor, beginning his seventh year supporting those who are exploring their ministry journey. “Being a mentor in the candidacy gives me the opportunity to walk with people through a time of discernment in their lives as they seek the path God is calling them to follow,” he shares. “Over the last seven years, I have seen dozens of people come to an understanding of God's call for their lives. Being able to walk with them through this amazing time in their lives and to be able to help them through the, often times, confusing process is a true joy in my life.”
Adds Meredith, “This year was unique because of the class size. We had more than  80 --- which is unprecedented. The largest class before now had been in the 60s. We had to use a larger worship space because our group didn't fit in the one we used last year. It was a beautiful thing to see!”
Adds Meredith, “People who attend Summit are in different stages of discernment. Some have no idea what they're being called to, but have an inkling that it might have something to do with ordained ministry, and so they come to spend some time figuring that out. Others know exactly what they are being called to, and can articulate it clearly from the start. Many are already working in ministry, but are beginning to believe that God wants something more of them.”
Attendee David Blanchard shares that “Camp Allen was a wonderful experience for me. What a great facility.” He adds, “I think what stood out for me was worship on Friday afternoon. I can't think of a time when God spoke so directly to me as He did when Rev. Levingston was preaching. Wow! Also, the people I met were outstanding. I really felt like part of a community and I'm starting to better understand the UMC commitment to connection among the clergy.”
Attendee Kaylea Fleming began discerning a call to ordained ministry last fall through conversations with her campus minister, Rev. Tom Teekell, at the SFA Wesley Foundation. “Tom led me to many opportunities for further discernment and affirmation including guest preaching at local churches, preaching at the Wesley Foundation, the College Pastoral Internship Project, and most recently, Candidacy Summit,” she shares. “The Summit provided times for worship and reflection, as well as lots of information for those who are pursuing their call from God. The most wonderful experience of the Summit for me was meeting with my Exploring Mentor group. I am so grateful to have a group of other young adults who are asking the same questions I am, even if none of us have the answers yet! We will be there to support each other through a process that can be confusing and challenging. I am excited about the next steps of my Candidacy journey, and I am especially excited to take those steps with a group of people who will hopefully be lifelong friends and colleagues.”
Adds Meredith, “Wherever Summit participants are in their journey, we hope that Summit will be always a time to pause, reflect, and say yes to whatever God's call may be.”