By Sophia K.R. Agtarap
This notion of being called is not a new one.
Scripture is peppered with stories of our foreparents in faith being called to serve, to proclaim, to prophesy, to witness, to redemptive work. Some of these stories seem like they were pulled from blockbuster action movies, replete with human sacrifices, creatures of the deep sea, and voices from above. Yet other stories were not so dramatic and filled with fanfare and came in the form of questions and statements that the hearers wrestled with.
“What’s your call?” is a question many people of faith are asked, and if you are one of those exploring formal ministry paths through The United Methodist Church, it’s one you’ll hear again and again throughout your discernment process. It’s a question I was asked, and continued to ask myself as I said, “Yes, I am called, but how, and to what?”
What began with local church, district, and conference involvement, evolved into entering the candidacy process for deacon through my Seattle District, with the encouragement from then District Superintendent Pat Simpson that it was a period of discernment, and culminates with my application for consecration to The United Methodist Women’s Board of Directors through the Deaconess Home Missioner office, and God willing, consecration at the UMW Assembly in May 2018.
The candidacy process for deacon did exactly what it was supposed to do: help me discern my call to ministry. As one who has always believed in an empowered and theologically-trained laity, it affirmed my call to diverse forms of service directed toward the world to make Jesus Christ known in the fullness of his ministry and mission, which mandate that his followers:
- Alleviate suffering
- Eradicate causes of injustice and all that robs life of dignity and worth
- Facilitate the development of full human potential
- Share in building global community through the church universal
…which happened to be the call of the deaconess — laywomen who are called by God to be in a lifetime relationship in The United Methodist Church for engagement with a full-time vocation in ministries of love, justice, and service.
Today, I serve as director of Communications at Vanderbilt Divinity School, supporting and amplifying the work of this ecumenical, justice-seeking learning community, while co-leading the Immigration Task Force of the Tennessee Annual Conference, and organizing with Moral Movement Tennessee — a grassroots organization building a multiracial, intergenerational, interfaith, anti-poverty, pro-justice moral movement to advance Tennessee and its most vulnerable and marginalized forward.
Through this community of deaconesses and home missioners, I have found my home as a lay person as I continue asking and answering the question, “What is my call?”
Learn more about the Deaconess and Home Missioner Community.
Sophia K.R. Agtarap is a member of the PNW Conference and is a candidate for deaconess.