I never expected to live in Wellsboro. In fact, I never knew a place called Wellsboro existed until I got the phone call from District Superintendent Beth Jones while I was driving between Altoona and Pittsburgh on a sunny day in April 2015. But I’m already getting ahead of myself.
This story begins during the Spring of 2011, when I joined the First United Methodist Church of Hollidaysburg, where Erin had always been a member. It was about a month after transferring my membership from the Catholic tradition to the United Methodist tradition that I began to feel drawn towards a position of leadership in the church. Not only that, but the more I prayed about it and discussed it with others, the more it became clear that I was feeling led towards pastoral ministry.
But there were questions and there were concerns; and I had already decided three years prior that I did not want to go back to school for another degree.
We were happy living in Hollidaysburg; it was a nice town, we were part of an active and vital church, and we had no desire to live anywhere else.
But I was not the only one who felt led to pursue a different career path; It seems that God was working in both of our hearts; and so Erin and I decided to trust God’s plans for us as we moved to Pittsburgh so Erin could attend Pittsburgh Vet Tech Institute while I attended Pittsburgh Seminary.
We trusted in God and God blessed us through our family as well as through the network of relationships that were built through our three years living as next door neighbors to my parents…as it happened, just at the time we were getting ready to move to Pittsburgh my parents next door neighbor sold her house, they bought the house, and invited us to live there for three years.
During that time we were blessed with a dog walking community, two supportive churches, and an opportunity to get the education that would equip us to fulfill our respective calls.
During our time in Pittsburgh I got to serve as a part time pastor at a church called Hot Metal bridge Faith Community where the primary missional thrust was to build relationships with people who were experiencing homelessness, and after graduating from Pittsburgh Vet Tech Institute Erin got to build relationships with people and their pets in her service at the Pleasant Valley Veterinary Clinic.
Life was good in Pittsburgh and we found a healthy rhythm between work, family, and spending time with the local dog walking group.
After graduation I was asked if I wanted to stay on with Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community after graduation. Afterall, I was happy there. Erin was happy with her place of employment. There were things about the city we both enjoyed, and we agreed that if we left there would be many many people whom we’d miss.
But we knew the life that we had chosen. Our faith had taken us this far along the journey, and we decided that in faith we would continue.
We decided to trust God in our move from Hollidaysburg to Pittsburgh, and we decided to trust God in our move from Pittsburgh to wherever the next location would be prior to knowing where that place was.
On this journey that’s what faith has been for us; it’s trust in God. And that is why, when I received the phone call on that Sunny day in April of 2015 the most prominent thing I felt was an invitation to once more, trust in God for the next step of the journey just as we’d done for every step prior.
We have discovered that the road to fulfilling God’s call in our lives is often very challenging, especially when we think of those we’ve gotten to know and love in Hollidaysburg and in Pittsburgh…but faith lived out to fulfill God’s call is always worth the cost.
As we begin this season of Advent; anticipating the birth of Christ, we do so in faith. While I think that the people and the places in mine and Erin’s story of faith are probably not the same as those in yours, I hope every one of us can recall how Jesus has been faithful to lead us along every next step of the journey towards fulfilling our call when we walk it in faith.