By Jesse N. Love | Photos by Pastor Dione Corsilles, the Rev. Elmar de Ocera, and Aaron Pazan

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Lynne Onishi (center) gathers with friends at Exploration 2017. Onishi is one of many young people exploring a call to ordained ministry.

Portland, Ore. – “As a senior in college, I am frantically searching for my calling and my purpose in preparation for life after graduation. I have been blessed with different opportunities, friends, and mentors who have helped me look deeper at ministry work,” shares Lynne Onishi of Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church in Seattle.

About 300 young people were in attendance at Exploration 2017.

Onishi is one of many young adults from around the United States who attended Exploration 2017, an event led by The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM). This event was held at the Marriott Portland Downtown Waterfront in Oregon on November 3-5. Over 300 young adults were in attendance.

This biennial event served as a pivotal time to discern a call into ordained ministry for young people, ages 18 to 26. Through sermons, music, workshops, and fellowship, attendees were nurtured to think about next steps into their journey of faith.

The Rev. Elmar de Ocera of Pinole UMC in The California Nevada Conference accompanied a few young people to Exploration. “The experience and knowledge of our youth and young adults responding to the call of the Lord to the different paths in ministry makes me hopeful and blessed.”

“The call came to the prophets, the call came to Mary,” shares the Rev. Shalom Agtarap, associate director of Strategic Faith Community Development for The Pacific Northwest Conference. “It is going to be really important that people aren’t just exploring calls to ministry and not just orienting themselves in a physical church, but that they are doing the real, deep spiritual work – spiritual work that’s required for any path,” Agtarap states.

Henry Pablo III, from Pinole UMC highlighted a few important key ideas from his time at Exploration:

  • “It is okay to feel doubt within your call experience, that is part of it.”
  • “It was refreshing to see a bunch of people my age (23) entering the ministry.”
  • “Do not be afraid! There are many scholarships and resources out there that will help pay for seminary and schooling.”
  • “Ministry is not glamorous but glorious!”
  • “The United Methodist Church is a connectional church where I will not be doing this alone. There are a lot of people just like you, where each and every one of us bring our own unique call story and gifts to God’s table.”
The Rev. Jenny Smith presents a sermon during Exploration 2017.

Aaron Pazan, who attends Portsmouth Union Church in Portland, shares, “Now more then ever, my call is something that I need to act upon. Pastor Jenny Smith’s sermon on Sunday, reminded me that ‘…there’s a power inside of (us) that’s bigger and louder than the fear,’ and that ‘God uses our brokenness as strength.’”

Exploration provided time for young people who are questioning and understanding what a life in ministry can be. “I don’t know exactly what my future looks like, but Exploration allowed me to open my eyes to new possibilities in ministry, shares Onishi. “I would highly recommend attending Exploration to other young folks who may be interested in ministry work!”

If you feel called to serve as a deacon or elder in The United Methodist Church, please speak to your local pastor or visit to learn about the office of young adult discernment and enlistment with GBHEM.

Special thanks to Patrice Katigbak.

Jesse N. Love serves as graphic designer & print manager for the PNWUMC.


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