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by Dustin Miller
“God calls all of us repeatedly throughout our own lives.” This was the message Julie Haushalter, EMU and EMS Campus Pastor had for those attending the 2nd Annual Church Vocations Banquet.
The theme for the April 4th banquet was “Exploring a Call.” The event included a dinner, listening to the call stories of area pastors, and students talking to each other about their own sense of calling. The banquet was held at the Thomas House Restaurant in Dayton, Virginia.
The 17 students who attended the banquet were nominated by local pastors, EMU campus pastors, residence directors or professors. Nan Kanagy, residence director and seminary student, emphasized the importance of nominating students to attend.
She said, “I have the opportunity to live and work with students on a daily basis. Praying and talking about life, direction, and vocation with students is one of my passions. I care about Christ and the church. Calling and helping to form young adults for ministry is important to me.”
The Church Vocations Banquet is co-sponsored by EMU Campus Ministries and EMS Office of Church Partnerships, and is a major component of the “Culture of Call” Lilly Endowment, Inc. grant to EMU and EMS.
“In my conversations with students the consistent theme was that their own congregations affirmed their gifts and calling while they were in high school, advising them to listen to what God is calling them to,” said Don Yoder, Director of Seminary and Graduate Admissions at EMU. “That is what the culture of call is all about.”
After dinner, Julie Haushalter began by reflecting on “call.” All of our experiences equip us for God’s call in our lives. Each person has a unique passion and character that in turn fuels our vocation in the world, she said.
Reverend Dr. Susan Garrett, Director of Connectional Ministries for the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church, shared the story of her four part calling. She identified the way her call to be a Christian, her secret call of the prodding of the spirit, and the providential call that equipped her, all flowed into the ecclesiastical calling of the church.
Lee Martin, pastor of Mt. Clinton Mennonite Church, accentuated that God doesn’t place us in settings that don’t fit with our gifts and talents. He said that God has used every experience to prepare him for the next.
“Hearing the call of others helped me to explore the depth of my own call. Dialogue with others expanded my perception of ministry in today’s world” said participant Shannon Yoder, a junior at EMU.
According to EMU Campus Pastor Brian Martin Burkholder, “There is nothing better than hearing personal stories of call and journey and reflecting on them in relation to your own experience. This is the emphasis of the vocations banquet program.
The affirmation of being invited to participate in the vocations banquet sends a strong message of support and encouragement that is often taken to heart by the students.”
Julie Haushalter noted the importance of hearing the stories of others. “I heard several students express relief that persons sharing who shared had done a rich variety of things in their life, all related to their call.”
She added, “To listen to stories of experienced persons living into their call is powerful and helpful for students to understand that the decision they’ve made about their major in college is a starting point, but is not the complete picture of what God might be calling them to do.”"Culture of Call" relates with Mennonite congregations to create a culture of call by recognizing gifted persons who may be called to pastoral ministry. For a number of years, "Culture of Call" has been working primarily with area Mennonite conferences to support and equip congregations to recognize and call out persons with ministry potential.