I came to Wesley looking for a place to belong outside of my academic department at the U of I. I was craving the kind of connection you feel when you’re part of a worshipping community. After a few years of regularly attending Wesley I was searching for deeper involvement in the community and deeper meaning for my life than my career as a graduate student. So, I took Miriam’s spiritual gifts workshop. I already had a good idea of what my gifts were. What I was looking for was how to use them. Miriam encouraged me to join the capitol campaign committee, where I found a role developing and communicating the 3 pronged mission program (local, national, and international). An opportunity also arose to move into a leadership position of Social Action Ministry which has since become a much more focused group, enabling it to better achieve its mission of being a prophetic voice for social issues.
One of the things I’m proudest we were able to accomplish was hosting an open conversation on marriage equality in the United Methodist church, a topic that is quite controversial in our conference and denomination. We had outstanding participation from Wesley members and friends, who were able to come together to share their varied opinions in a loving and respectful way, and we were able to inform our annual conference representatives of the current state of opinion at Wesley. All of this happened in the context of our country’s highest court deciding the legality of same sex marriage just a few month’s later. These leadership opportunities have helped me develop into the person I believe God wants me to become, someone who uses her talents for administration to organize people to achieve social change. It’s a great feeling, as if you’re living in your sweet spot, to use the gifts you have impact the communities you’re a part of. Talk about a sense of belonging.