Pastor Hannah Wiswasser – Associate Pastor, firstname.lastname@example.org
IT’S ORDINATION MONTH!!! It’s hard to express how excited I am and have been for this month. Ordination has been the dream, the goal, for so long, and now it’s finally here! As I look back over my journey to ministry and the first few years, it feels like multiple lifetimes. So much growth happened over what is really a short amount of time. (Although it has felt like an eternity at times.) I wasn’t always sure this day would come as quickly as I wanted it to because there are many points in the process where delays can happen. Even though the process had its ups and downs, I never doubted God was calling me to ministry.
Discerning a call is not always an easy task. There are so many ways we connect with God. But listening for and hearing God is not always as easy. Sometimes we find ourselves asking, “Is that God I’m hearing? Is this what God wants or what I want?” Separating our will from God’s takes time and intentionality (one of my favorite words). As I discerned my call, ministry just kept coming up. I’d talk about it with strangers and with close friends and family. It wouldn’t go away, even though I wasn’t actively seeking out information yet. God kept putting ministry in my heart and in my path. If something does not go away, I tend to assume that’s God’s way of nudging me.
I also use conversations with mentors, friends, and family to help me discern where God is calling me. As an academic and introvert, it’s good for me to get out of my own head. I’m sure you’ve never overthought something in your life. But I’m quite good at it. It helps me to hear other people’s thoughts. In recent years, I’ve also found it helps me talk things out. The older I get, the more of a verbal processor I become. I ask those in my decision-making circle, “Do you see these gifts and graces in me? Do you think I can do this? This is what I think God is telling me. Does that make sense?” These are questions I have asked over and over again. As I continue to grow in my ministry experience, I will continue to ask these questions. Our call, regardless of what it is, is rarely static. Even if we aren’t called to ordained ministry, our call does change and grow as we change and grow.
My call has changed and morphed over the years. It started with general ministry, then I considered youth ministry, then considered the different types of pastors in the United Methodist Church. While working on my undergraduate degree, I felt drawn to exploring the Church’s response to mental health. In seminary, I honed my passion for pastoral care and being able to care for people holistically. I suspect this part of my call will continue to grow and change as mental health becomes a more pressing issue.
It’s also important to note you are not alone on your discernment journey. There are many resources at your disposal. One that I have found particularly helpful is spiritual direction. You work with a certified spiritual director around whatever questions you have. They provide you with support, a sounding board, and more. They help you ask questions and listen for answers. Suppose this is something you’re interested in exploring. In that case, I’m happy to help put you in touch with people from the Indiana Conference who can help you find a spiritual director.
God calls us to different things throughout our lives, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make sure you’re hearing the call correctly. Explore your options. Talk with your friends and family. Use your resources. Know we are here to walk with you along this journey.
And thank you to all of you who have walked with me for part of my journey. If you’d like to join us for the ordination ceremony, you are welcome too! It’s Saturday, June 11, 2022, at 1:30pm at Indiana Wesleyan University. You can find more information about location and parking here: www.inumc.org/annual-conference/ac-information/