Finding a different path

Finding a different path

A letter to my District Committee on Ministry. Most of it is here, save a few edits 🙂

I am writing to officially exit the candidacy process for Deacon in the Pacific Northwest Conference of The UMC. I hope you will share this letter with the committee either when you gather, or by email.

I believed that entering the process was a “yes” to a time of discernment. In the years leading up to becoming a certified candidate, I believe that I fully committed to a period of discernment: seminary at Seattle Pacific Seminary, full-time employment at First Church Seattle, leadership at various levels of the church.

After moving to Nashville to work for the United Methodist Communications Agency, I continued my discernment in understanding the role of Deacon in the church and in the world. As Minister of Online Engagement for Rethink Church/UMCom, I had the great honor and blessing to serve The UMC in this role where I engaged un/ex/non-church people and members of The UMC.

I left this role in May because I strongly felt called to something else, though I am still understanding what that is. In addition to the less than collaborative environment of the agency, I felt God nudging me to explore what it was that brought me joy: serving with organizations that addressed the city’s disenfranchised: those experiencing homelessness, poverty and criminalization for not having permanent housing or something to eat.

Autumn road

Today, I am working with the non-profit, Open Table Nashville, an interfaith organization, as their communications consultant, as well as some work with other agencies.

Two weeks ago, I got my business license to start a food truck. In the past few years, I have developed a love for food and finding ways to sustainably and creatively eat and feed people. The truck will be a source of income for me, with a social good component, that allows people to pay as they can, buy a meal for someone who is hungry, and support local charities. I am working now with churches to explore hosting community kitchens: opportunities to offer classes to families about healthy living and eating. Through one meal and interaction at a time, I want to spread the message of health and wholeness.

Leaving the candidacy process for me does not mean I am leaving ministry. It does mean, however, I have found a different path. I applied to participate in a Deaconess discernment weekend in St. Louis. My call to ministry has not waned, but the ways in which I express or formalize that, have changed. My desire to be a part of a covenant community is expressed in the deaconess office, and I hope that this discernment weekend will give flesh to that.

I have nothing but thanks for this process with the Seattle DCOM and am grateful for the support you have offered over the years. I will continue living out my baptismal vows by faithfully participating in the church’s ministries through my prayers, my presence, my gifts, my service, and my witness.

Blessings to you all as you continue journeying with others exploring their unique paths to ministry.

Peace and joy,
Sophia