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Say Yes

Contributed by: Julie Bathke

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All I really wanted was to go to church and to lead some sort of adult Bible study. Then my priest said, “Here’s a program just getting started. You might be interested.” Well, it did look interesting, kind of a catalogue for Episcopal grad school. I love learning. Only there was that title—School for Ministry—and the program included not just classes, but retreats, overnight opportunities for “spiritual exploration.” Now I had no call whatsoever to ordination and retreats—48 hours of in-person, up close and personal Episcopalian—oy veh!

You might expect this story to become one about how I discovered my call to ordination. But you would be wrong. This story is about the way God provided exactly the right thing at the moment I was ready to say yes. I signed on to being in the first cohort of the first year of Beta testing for SfM. Then, I signed on for another year. Then, after class discussion it hit me: in September, we begin our final year of study together. Sometimes, having said yes makes you sad.

The SfM program meets us where we are. Six of our cohort were ordained just this past Saturday. They had already completed some course work elsewhere. Some will begin the serious work toward ordination with internships and portfolio building while taking SfM classes and, oh yes, working at full time jobs. Some of us are still in the process of discernment. We will have new folks joining in September. As for me, still no call to ordination. I’m firmly entrenched in the laity and glad to be there.

I don’t speak easily of my faith, and frankly, I doubt more often than I believe. Give me the coolness of intellectual discussion over the exploration of spiritual gifts and practices. Other members of our cohort feel exactly the opposite. But we all have a place at the table, or on the Zoom screen. I’m certain—well perhaps certain—God put SfM squarely in front of me so I could say yes. Thanks be to God.

School for Ministry Students Sing “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”

NJ School for Ministry students sing “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” in its February “Gathering Weekend” in Feb. 2020.
The NJ School for Ministry prepares its participants for lay and ordained ministry.