19 years ago this past summer, I was recorded as a minister in our Northwest Yearly Meeting. For us, recording means that the community of the Yearly Meeting recognizes and “records” when a person has been gifted and called by God to publicly serve in ministry, especially with what we call “proclamational” gifts. July 25, 1996 was a significant day for me. When I had the chance to speak, this is part of what I said:
“So what do I have to offer? What do I believe is God’s specific call or emphasis in ministry for me? Two things:
Others have been tremendously influential in my spiritual journey. My experience at Fuller Theological Seminary and my further study of the Bible has built a passion in me for community. I am deeply convinced that while our faith must be personal, it is not God’s desire that it be individualistic. When we commune with God, we are automatically placed in communion and community with everyone else who is a disciple of Jesus. It’s a given. The only question is, how much am I going to participate in this fellowship of believers, this body of Christ that I am a part of. We need each other. We need accountability, and encouragement. We need to serve others and to be served. We need each other–and not as an add on to our faith in God, but inextricably intertwined with it. Our faith is a communal faith, and I think part of my role among Friends is to help recapture that idea, in practice and in belief.
Second, I have a passion for affirming and empowering others to exercise their spiritual gifts. In particular, I am deeply concerned that women who demonstrate gifts of spiritual leadership be affirmed and given a place to exercise those gifts in the church. There are still many voices in society which say “no” to women. I want the people I minister to at Newberg to know they can do anything God gifts them to do. I want to be one voice in their lives that says, “Yes, I see God working in you in this way.” God has given all of us a spiritual gift to be used in the church, and the gifts are given without respect to gender. I don’t want to be one to stand in the way of God. I want to be one who will encourage women and men alike to follow the leading of God to build up the body of believers in their own unique way.”
That same call remains. That same call has deepened. Today, September 25, 2015, I publicly re-commit myself to this calling.
I will use my voice to communicate that if you have taken a step toward Jesus, you belong in community. It’s what you were made for! I want to serve you, and I need the unique service you can bring to me. I will emphasize the center of our community, Jesus Christ, rather than the boundaries of our community.
I will use my voice to say “yes” to the unique gifts God has given you–inviting, encouraging, and challenging you to give yourselves to others for the sake of Jesus. Everyone is born with unique talents. But more than that, everyone who has committed to following Jesus is given unique Spirit-gifts that are for the good of the whole community, the entire body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12: 4-11; Ephesians 4:7-13; Romans 12:4-8) If our community doesn’t accept what God has given you to give to us, we are missing all that God has for us.
Since they are God’s Spirit-gifts in you, nothing you do or don’t do, nothing you believe or don’t believe, can take them away. (Ephesians 2:8-10). History has shown we are good at forgetting that, so my call is to use my voice to say “yes” to those who are often told “no” in Christ’s body.
Over the years I’ve had to face the reality that sometimes our actions do restrict our future ministry in some ways. Also, there is a difference between the universal body of Christ and a particular local church– sometimes a particular church won’t make room for the gifts of some individuals. But I commit to using my voice to help find a space in Christ’s universal body for any follower of Jesus Christ to use their Spirit-gifts for the benefit of others. This goes beyond empowering women. My commitment is to anyone who names Jesus as Lord.
I reaffirm my calling today.