Last month I was invited to share my call story with some young leaders in the church. Now, you might be wondering, “What’s a call story?” A call story is a phrase pastors and other Christians use to describe how God led them into ministry.
Although I have the privilege of bearing witness to others’ faith stories on a regular basis, it had been a long time since I’d thought about mine. On this blog, I write most about my call to mother my son Jack rather than my call to serve my church.
When I finally sat down to write about how I came to work as a content editor for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), I found the task challenging and refreshing. And knew I had to share it with you.
Here’s a short overview of my vocational path:
I grew up in the Lutheran church. My mom is an organist and Lutheran school teacher. Some of my earliest memories of church involve either me sitting nearby the organ bench where my mother was playing and singing my little heart out in the Joyful Sounds children’s choir, which she directed.
For me, faith and music are intertwined. Singing in the choir was always a big part of my worship experience. Being the daughter of the music director–my mom–I kinda had no choice. Luckily, I loved it. I adore Lutheran music and continued singing in church through college at Valparaiso University in Indiana. I have a special place in my heart for the Holden evening prayer liturgy, which I sang as a cantor at Valpo’s Sunday night candlelight service.
I’ve always been passionate about reading and writing. I grew up reading anything I could get my hands on and loved getting lost in good books. When I wasn’t reading, I could often be found sprawled out on my bed writing in my journal or drafting my own stories. The passion continued at college. At Valpo, I studied English literature, journalism and the humanities. I also worked at the writing center and the school newspaper, and interned at a local magazine.
I never thought I’d work for the church. In 2008, when I graduated, paying jobs in journalism were scarce. The chair of the English department connected me with a job at a large, progressive congregation in downtown Chicago. I applied, reluctantly, because I had to find something. At the time, I didn’t think it would be a good fit.
The day I interviewed, something clicked. There was a moment during my interview when I was sitting in the head pastor’s office and chatting with a future colleague. I felt at home, and suddenly I knew this was where I wanted to work. I wanted to use my gifts in writing and editing to inspire others in their faith. I felt God was calling me to serve this congregation. I started working there that June.
The first few years I lived in Chicago, my husband and I had trouble finding a Lutheran church. We eventually found our current congregational home, Resurrection Lutheran Church, through good friends. Resurrection was a lifeline for me in the city, it’s where I grew in my faith as a young adult and met some of my dearest friends. I got involved in young adult ministry and started a small group bible study. Six years later we continue to meet and this community has been an incredible blessing in my life.
While at a bible study one evening, I met then ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson. When I told him where I worked, he asked, “Why don’t you come work for your church?” I laughed and thought nothing of it, but I didn’t realize his voice was the Holy Spirit calling.
A few months later I found a posting for a communications job with the ELCA. I applied, wondering if they’d consider me for an interview. I interviewed in March and started a brand new job working for my church that April–five years ago this month!
I’d always dreamed of working for a magazine, but one that mattered. I loved reading magazines growing up but didn’t like how superficial they were. But Living Lutheran, the magazine of the ELCA, has heart and depth. Since joining the ELCA communications team, I’ve been through two department restructures and I’m fortunate that the changes provided an opportunity for me to focus on using my gifts for storytelling to serve the church. When I was offered the job to edit and write primarily for Living Lutheran three years ago, it felt like I’d landed my dream career. And I still feel that way now.
Faith stories are the best stories. I’ve interviewed a woman who was baptized at 100 years old, a pastor who volunteers as a roller derby announcer, refugees, missionaries, veterans, liturgical dancers, teens, young adults and more. My job is to amplify the voices of people who are living out their faith. I’m grateful every day that the stories I write or edit express the healing, transformative power of God’s grace.