By Fred Koening
Susan McCollegan moved to Columbia from Springfield three years ago to help care for her grandchildren. Rev. Jon Spaulding, her pastor at Kingsway UMC in Springfield, advised her to give Missouri UMC a try, because he thought she would like Rev. Amy Gearhart.
“I planned on visiting several churches, but after I went to Missouri UMC once I never went anywhere else. It was a good fit,” she said.
McCollegan feels that God has spoken to her in several ways, and when she was working as a teacher and a principal, she felt she was where God wanted her to be.
But last summer, when Missouri UMC had a special Sunday worship service on considering your call to ministry, it was different. Two of her friends, the associate pastor and a candidate for ministry, both gave personal testimonies of following their calls to ministry.
"That Sunday I felt physically compelled to get down out of the choir loft and make public a declaration of following my call,” McCollegan said. She is now taking steps to becoming a licensed local pastor, but is open to wherever the call may lead her.
McCollegan was one of 15 people open to following that call who participated in the Candidacy Summit at the Missouri Conference Center in Columbia on January 16-17. Cody Oshel says he fought the call to ministry for about two years. He finally gave in and quit his job selling cars to become a youth director at Wesley UMC in St. Joseph.
“This wasn’t easy, because I was never involved in a youth program myself,” he said.
Oshel enjoys his position, but feels he may be better suited for ministering to adults. He’s taking some online courses while he discerns his call.
Darryl Rider is a global training manager for Caterpillar, and was going to Switzerland for a week just after the candidacy summit. He’s a member of Odessa UMC and has done some pulpit supply. Lately he’s also been serving as pastor for the Wellington/Hardin charge.
“Proclaiming the good news is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had,” he said.
Brent Urton of Jamesport UMC works for Murphy-Brown where he helps raise baby pigs. Now he’s starting down another path.
“I prayed for God to use me as he wanted, and that’s led me here,” Urton said.
Urton told his pastor he experienced the call to ministry, and asked him what to do. His pastor told him he knew what to do, and informed his District Superintendent. Soon the connectional church was engaged.
“I usually get about one email a day, and right after that I checked my email, and found about 12 messages waiting for me,” he said. “I had what I needed to get started.”
During the summit Rev. David Scott of Arch UMC in Hannibal shared that he was a pharmacist when he got his call to ministry. He sold his pharmacy to follow the call.
“When God calls you, there is nothing greater than following through with that call,” Scott said.
The Candidacy Summit is now a bi-annual event. The next Candidacy Summit will be July 30 – August 1 at the Missouri Conference Center in Columbia. For more information about following your call, go to www.thecalltoministry.org.