By Rick Wolcott*
“I believe that each of you here has been called by God to be in ministry, either lay or clergy, in a deeper way,” East Ohio Conference Bishop John L. Hopkins said during opening worship of the recent candidacy summit.
Forty-four people attended the two-day summit, a joint ministry of the East Ohio and West Ohio Conferences, at Methodist Theological School in Ohio.
“All of you are here because you are disciples and followers of Jesus Christ,” said the Rev. Wade Giffin, Office of Ministry director in the West Ohio Conference. “Your spiritual formation has just taken an interesting turn because God has placed a call on your life.”
“This whole candidacy summit gives me a lot of hope for The United Methodist Church,” said the Rev. Abby Auman, co-director of Candidacy Mentoring with the East Ohio Conference Board of Ordained Ministry.
“There are a lot of people who are still feeling God’s call in their lives and answering that in the best way that they know how and it’s really exciting to get to help them answer that call, and help them figure out how they will be the hands and feet of Jesus in their particular lives,” she said.
“I think it’s great,” said Jackie Hamilton, a lay delegate to Annual Conference from Huron United Methodist Church (Firelands District). “I started the process in 2011 and I just finished all of my requirements for seminary. I feel like this time the steps are broken down into smaller steps and from what I’m seeing and what I’m sensing, East Ohio and West Ohio doing this summit together brings the gifts of each conference and allows people to understand more of the picture. It seems to be a more organized approach to the ordination process.”
Rev. Jared Williams, East Ohio Conference Board of Ordained Ministry registrar for Candidacy said, “I would hope that, one, people come away with a greater understanding of our process toward licensing and ordination in The United Methodist Church. And two, and probably more importantly, I hope that they’ll really sense God’s presence and can begin to discern what path God would have them take, whether that be as a lay person, as a licensed local pastor, as a deacon, or as an elder.”
“I’ve enjoyed the summit,” said Terry Simpson, “I’m already a lay pastor for three churches, Gageville, State Line and Amboy UMCs (Western Reserve District), and this is the last class I have to do before I can get my license.”
“This particular weekend is a time for people to slow down and try to figure out ‘what is God calling me to do that no one else can do? And how do I do that within this church that I love so much?’” Auman said.
“Frankly, the biggest decisions you are going to have to make here as you start a journey of continuing discernment is how much of this discernment is about you and how much is about what God wants through the body of Christ, the church, for you,” Hopkins told the group. “In American culture it’s mostly about us, but in our theology it’s mostly about Jesus as the body of Christ through the church.”
“It’s exciting to see that God is working in the lives of these folks and that there are still folks out there who are hearing God speak to them, and calling them to something greater outside of just their own lives and concerns,” Williams said.
*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.