Like many people, I often find it hard to pinpoint the time in my life that I first felt called to ministry. There are many people and experiences in my life that seem to have led me to this place of being a diaconal minister. People who know my parents, an ELCA pastor and the Executive Director of the Prison Ministry section of Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, often tell me I am just a combination of my parent’s passions. Although I can see how this comparison is made, my journey has always felt like my own. Certainly, it begins with my family, but takes jumps and twists in many directions.
I truly love my job and believe that it is an embodiment of the diaconal call to bridge church and community.
This was also the year that it became clear to me that Jesus was radical. He spoke out against the establishment, he hung out with lepers and prostitutes and he said we needed to be hanging out with them as well. My world seemed to be colliding with all of the new experiences and new ways of thinking about things and, even more than before, I felt a need to combine these two inseparable passions.
I heard about a vocational event at Luther Seminary that year and decided to attend. I think that is when I realized that diaconal ministry, a ministry of Word and Service, was what I had always felt called to do. The idea that diaconal ministers should be bridging the gap between church and community was exciting to me. Following Seminary, I moved to Chicago and worked for nine months at a placed called Chicago Uptown Ministry as part of my requirements for fieldwork for candidacy. While working there, I heard that the Chicago/Milwaukee Coordinator position with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps was opening. In so many ways, it seemed like a call home. The organization that enlivened my passion for justice and helped me to think seriously about a call to ministry had a job opening. I applied and have been the Chicago/Milwaukee Coordinator for almost three years now. I am rostered as a diaconal minister in the Metro Chicago Synod, where I live, but my work brings me to Milwaukee as well. I truly love my job and believe that it is an embodiment of the diaconal call to bridge church and community.