God has gifted us each in unique ways to serve as members of the body of Christ. All Christians are ministers. Some are called to serve in mission and ministry as a lay person, and others to serve as an ordained deacon or elder, or as licensed local pastor. We encourage you to explore the many ways that you can say yes to the call of God on your life.
In January 2023, the Board of Ordained Ministry (BOOM) is offering a virtual “Orientation to Ministry” workshop. This is an opportunity for anyone wishing to understand the diversity of ways they can serve in the United Methodist Church.
This month, Rev. Frank Davis, an elder serving at Leonia UMC, and Rev. Dr. Deb De Vos, a deacon serving at Hackettstown UMC, are sharing their call stories.
My Call – Rev. Frank Davis
Honestly, I never wanted to become a pastor. I was a PK (Preacher’s Kid) and I saw what ministry was like from the inside out. My dad was like superman. Everyone sought his counsel and prayers, from the man on the street to government officials. He was indeed well loved, but he was also hardly home. I hated that part of what he did. I complained but all they said was one day I would understand. I didn’t know how true that would be. It appears that everyone, except me, knew that I was going to be in ministry. “From you were born” my mother said!
How could that be? I was not perfect and the things I did already excluded me from being chosen…and so I ran. I ran so hard from God that I ran right into God.
Years had passed and my call to the ministry was neither dramatic nor spectacular. It came neither by some miraculous vision nor by some blinding light experience on the road of life. Moreover, it did not come as a sudden realization. Rather, it was a response to an inner urge or knot in my gut that gradually came upon me. This urge… this knot would not let me go…it expressed itself in a desire to serve God and humanity, and the feeling that my talent and my commitment could best be expressed through the ministry.
At first, I planned to be a pilot; then I turned my attention in the direction of finance. It came easy to me as my mom was a CPA. But as I progressed through my chosen profession, I still felt that undying urge to serve God and humanity through the ministry. I was working on Wall St. when the urge (the knot) in my gut was overwhelming, and I finally decided to accept the challenge to enter the very ministry I vowed never to enter. I came to see that God had placed a responsibility upon my shoulders and the more I tried to escape it, the more frustrated I would become. A few months after preaching my first sermon I entered theological seminary. It was then that the “knot” in my gut subsided. This, in brief, is an account of my call and pilgrimage to the ministry. I would enjoy sharing more with you around a call to serve as an elder in the United Methodist Church at the Orientation to Ministry workshop.
Why Am I a Deacon? Rev. Dr. Deb De Vos
All my life I wanted to be a teacher. All my life I also loved Jesus and scripture. I went into college an Elementary Ed major and came out an accountant. Things happen. I taught catechism in the Catholic church and over the years I taught all grades from K-8. That didn’t fulfill my teaching bug. I taught skincare as a Mary Kay Beauty consultant and that didn’t fulfill the bug either. At one point, I decided to look for an evening Bible study. My church only offered them during the day. I did an internet search; this was pre-Google, so it was probably on Magellan! This search turned up Trinity United Methodist Church in Hackettstown. I had a co-worker who was a Methodist. Other than that, I knew nothing other than they were Protestants. I was concerned that in studying the Bible with them (who didn’t even have the whole Bible) that they would teach “wrong” things, but I went and did Disciple 1 with these Protestants and then Disciple 2. As I studied with them, eventually worshipped with them, and learned about John Wesley, I realized I was a United Methodist in my heart all along. I loved education and I cared about social justice, and these were two things that mattered to Wesley.
I enrolled in Drew Theological School for a Master’s in Ministry with a concentration in Scripture for fun. At the same time, I was leading a small group called Companions in Christ and doing a 25-week mentoring program with one of our associate pastors. It was after that year and being immersed in all that work, that I realized God had been calling me all along to ministry, specifically to ordained ministry as a deacon. I felt the strong tug of the call to Word, Service, Compassion and Justice. I knew I was called to educate people on their call to biblical justice and what that looked like in the world. I knew then I was called to be a prophetic voice when the voices of some were silenced or ignored, especially in the Church. It’s not easy and it’s not popular especially in today’s climate, but nonetheless Jesus does call us to justice.
Micah 6:8 is the signature passage when I think of the life of a deacon. We are the connection between the world and the church so that together we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. If you would like to know more about the ministry of the deacon, I invite you to come to the Orientation to Ministry workshop that will be offered in January 2023.
To explore more on serving as a elder, a deacon, a licensed local pastor or a certified lay minister in the United Methodist Church please register for Orientation to Ministry workshop on January 23, 2023, from 7-8:30 p.m. Learn more https://www.gnjumc.org/ordained-ministry/orientation-for-ministry/