Starting anything new is always hard—at least for me. A blank screen (used to be the blank sheet of paper!) can be so intimidating. Already, with two sentences written, I feel some of the stress leaving my shoulders—yeah! I am doing this!!
I spent most of my adult life trying not to get pigeon-holed in my jobs because I had some savvy about using computers. I always wanted to use them as tools to something bigger, broader, more impactful—whatever. I was asked several times to point my career into working in, analyzing, and/or managing the computer infrastructures for the Human Resources departments of my various employers. I always managed to avoid that path, while still staying deeply connected with the vital group of people who were doing that work. It seems to me no coincidence, then, that as I look to start a new career in ministry my first significant efforts involve technology and pushing the envelope on how technology and people can work together to form something bigger, broader, more impactful.
I left the corporate HR world about five years ago, and have only looked back to wish I had been more generous with the big income I was making at the time, and to miss some of the excellent people with whom I had the privilege to work over the years. I am happy to still be in contact with many of those folks in one way or another. The people who cross our paths leave imprints on our lives—and I am grateful for the imprints of those in my life, both the pleasant, supportive imprints, and the more challenging, critical imprints. Both have helped me grow immensely. I had already begun my seminary education before I left corporate life—I had finally heeded a sense of “call” from God toward ministry that had really been with me since childhood. When my employment ended suddenly in Columbus, OH, I made the leap of faith to commit to seminary on a full-time basis. What a ride it has been!
My first recollection of being singled out by God was in a Methodist church somewhere in Indianapolis at the age of 8, when I was moved by the pastor’s sermon and took his “invitation” to confess faith in Christ literally. I recall the surprise and consternation of my friend’s mother, who had been bringing me to church with her family—what was this child doing, dashing up to the kneeling rail in tears?? I have long since lost track of that family, but will always hold them in my heart as people who showed me one meaning of family and church life.
Many years later in college things changed for me in my relationship with “religion”. Choices in my personal life led me to realize I was not welcome in the places where I had been active up until that time—no more Sunday School bus captaining for me at that fundamentalist independent Baptist mega-church! I never doubted that God loved me and wanted me to stay in relationship, but I had no clue how to go about that once I considered the doors of the church closed to me. I spent nearly 20 years in a sort of spiritual desert. From time to time I would knock on a church door again. I found a few Presbyterians in Fort Wayne, IN who felt more like nervous voyeurs than potential community, and later a few supportive Presbyterians in Green Bay, WI. Then, in Omaha, NE, I walked into a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregation and felt a sense of “coming home” I had never experienced inside a church. It was a place I felt it was safe to just be ME, and to lay down the facade and the caution that I hadn’t even realized I was carrying with me everywhere. I could finally stop trying to protect myself from the church, and get on with the business of developing that long-neglected sense of “call” that a little 8-year-old girl had heard so clearly.
Now, 10 years after meeting the Disciples in Omaha, here I am! Graduated from seminary, ordained by the Disciples, and helping launch a grand experiment in using technology to build a virtual church family. What a ride it has been! I hope to meet many folks through this online church effort, and I am prayerful that I can help bring community and blessings to folks who find us at DisciplesNet.
I welcome all who read this little story to share your own stories with us, and to join in this grand adventure by being a part of our life and on-line community!
Blessings to you all,