This blog post is written by our ministerial intern 2021-2022, Ebony West.
My words cannot entirely describe the amount of joy I have being a part of the staff here at First Church. When I made the final decision this would be my internship for the year, I had no idea I would fall in love with the community and multiple ministries that take place. As someone from the Assemblies of God denomination, the learning process of how to run ministry has been exhilarating, humbling, and even a tad bit exhausting…but I’m a firm believer that if ministry isn’t exhausting, you aren’t doing it the right way!
The best attribute of First Church is the community. Those who sit in the pews. Those who tune in on zoom. Those who give their time earnestly to the advancement of ministry. And those who just simply show the smallest gestures of God’s love. I enjoy learning about the community here. As I learn about the community and the traditions of the UCC denomination, I learn more about my own pastoral identity and the impact it has. While my calling is Army chaplaincy, First Church has undoubtedly taught me what being a part of a team looks like. Everyone in the team takes care of one another because everyone knows the final mission, to love one another as Christ loves us in this world filled with mischief.
One way I have received that is the multitude of letters and emails filled with encouragement and welcoming as I become more settled into First Church. There is this one card I received that has a beautiful painting of trees in an open field with a purple ombré sunset. There are a few sparkling stars and a couple matte blue clouds hiding behind the trees. It was written to send condolences on behalf of my uncle Llewelyn. I stared at the card for at least five minutes in awe of the detail and the amount of tranquility it brought me. I even sent a picture to my family group chat so they could see the beauty of it as well. I see it as a visual representation of my favorite Bible verse, Philippians 4:11 “For I have learned to be content no matter the situation”. The way I view the card, the outside shows how God will calm any situation and bring peace. I was not sure what the content of the letter entailed, yet when I read it, I was not overwhelmed with sadness as before, but with comfort.
This week, the amazing Rev. Kate Layzer will be preaching on Transfiguration Sunday! It’s been an honor working beside Kate at Friday Café and learning about outreach. When I found out Kate was preaching this Sunday, I began to ponder on how much I have changed since working here, especially under the supervision of Kate while at the Friday Cafe, how I do not make decisions based on emotions as I have before in the past, but seek God’s advice and Word first. I have gained more patience and have begun to find more of my pastoral identity with each situation and encounter. While Army chaplaincy and church ministry do not differ entirely, working with Kate has allowed me to transfigure from a strictly military mindset to a more diverse and creative way of conducting ministry. I am finding my light and learning all of the parts God has created in me. I am forever grateful that this has been with the help of the congregation here at First Church. I look forward to creating more experiences and memories with everyone here and thankful for the community I am now a part of.