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Fan the Flames of Pentecost

During the summer, the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast is launching a campaign to invite and encourage each of its members into a deeper discernment about your specific call to ministry. Presentations will be given on Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. on each of the five lay tracks offered by the Lay School for Ministry. We hope you will join us for one of the five options as we consider how to grow more fully into our call to follow Christ as his disciples during ordinary time, a season for growth. The specific dates, times, and location are:  




June 12, 6 p.m.

Convocation I (Mobile)

Trinity, Mobile (1900 Dauphin St)

June 26, 6 p.m.

Convocation II (Pensacola)

St. Christopher's, Pensacola (3200 N 12th Ave)

July 10, 6 p.m.

Convocation III (Baldwin County)

St. Paul's, Daphne (28788 N Main St)

July 24, 6 p.m.

Convocation IV (South Alabama)

Nativity, Dothan (205 Holly Ln)

August 14, 6 p.m.

Convocation V (East FL Panhandle)

St. Andrew's, Panama City (1608 Baker Ct)

A bit more about discernment...


Through our baptismal covenant, we are all called into the first order of ministry as disciples, the order of laity. In his video "Dust" from the "Nooma Series," spiritual writer and pastor, Rob Bell reminds us that when Jesus called his disciples, he called the ones rejected by all the other rabbis. Jesus, in call them, believed they could learn to do what the rabbi did. He believed they could preach the good news (Preaching), lead worship (Worship Leader), heal people (Pastoral Care), teach (Formation/Catechist Leader), and call others to become disciples (Evangelism). The Lay School for Ministry offers these five tracks to equip you to be a lay leader in the life of your congregation and to follow in Jesus’ footsteps by doing what He did.  


Sue Rollins, an instructor for the lay school, delivered the sermon below on Sunday, May 12. It provides an excellent reflection for discerning how God might be calling you to use your gifts to serve him through the life of the church and the world.  

Sermon by Sue Rollins


John 17 After Jesus had finished speaking to his disciples, he looked up toward heaven and prayed:

           You have given me some followers from this world, and I have shown them what you are like. They were yours, but you gave them to me, and they have obeyed you. (Contemporary English Version)


What about you? What has God called you to?


I believe we can have several “calls” on our lives. Each with a time and a season. For instance, I am POSITIVE I was called to be a nurse, and I was a licensed, registered nurse for a number of years. I still have that preparation, knowledge, and the skills, but I no longer use them as a nurse working with patients.


Now, I am a Lay Pastoral Leader, I am an End-Of-Life Doula, a teacher in the Lay School for Ministry and a teacher in the School for Ministry. Roles that are not even close to changing bandages, checking temperatures, and giving shots. However, as a nurse I had opportunities to learn how to share knowledge and mentor others in their learning. I believe that was the Holy Spirit preparing me for the now.


I believe each of us must be open to listening and responding in a positive manner when we are called by God. I could end that previous statement by saying “respond to that call” and end there with a period. BUT-- nope, no thank you, no, and no way are also responses. Rather like Moses answered at first when he was called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. (Read the story in chapters 3 and 4 of Exodus.)


Discernment takes time and prayer. I remember when the first announcement about the Lay School was made. I felt like I was supposed to do “something,” but I wasn’t sure what. I spent many weeks quietly pondering, to let the Holy Spirit speak to my heart. Was I good enough? What track should I take? I talked with several people who know me well. I prayed long and hard. Then with a big breath, I pressed that Enter button and sent my application off. I had no idea what the Bishop would say or think about my application, but I was accepted. I was a part of the first Lay Pastoral Leader class of 2020-2021 at the height of Covid. Imagine attending class for 6 hours by Zoom once a month. Well, I graduated and was licensed. That truly was an amazing experience! However, God wasn’t finished with me just yet. He started meddling again and led 2 of us from that first class, Anita Ford and me, to reach out to Joy and the Bishop and express a desire to teach the Lay Pastoral Leader class. Really God? At the School for Lay Ministry? Yes indeed. Nervous, you betcha. It was one thing to be a member of our local Pastoral Care group but to teach others how to become Lay Pastoral Leaders in their congregations? Yet here I am today not only teaching in the schools but also teaching other Parishes who have invited us to teach a variety of classes.


When God calls us to something we need to respond, after prayer and discernment, with a hearty “Yes Lord!” How does that call come? Sometimes it’s like a grain of sand much like what happens with an oyster. The sand gets in the soft heart of the oyster, and it irritates. Over time, the oyster responds to the irritation, and a beautiful pearl is formed.


Sometimes the call comes as a small nudge in our innermost heart and our immediate response is, “I can’t do that” but that urge, that “poke,” if you will, won’t go away. Day after day those thoughts keep coming back to you and just won’t leave you alone. It’s at that point we need to bow our hearts and ask God what He’s saying, To Us.


I dare say a few years ago Lella did not see herself taking the Lay Preacher class to become a licensed and certified Lay Preacher. Or Mike Ballard, who did an internship with us after he completed the School for Ministry. He has been a well-known Attorney for many years and was called to the Priesthood. He now serves a small church north of Mobile as their Priest in Charge. Or Dr. Bob Donnell, a successful physician at the Infirmary who is now Reverend Bob Donnell, an Associate Priest at All Saints and I believe also serving another church as well.


Let me ask again, what are you called to?

I can hear many of you emphatically saying right now “I am NOT called to be a priest, deacon, or lay minister… and you may be correct.


Rather, you may be, like Betty, called to a ministry of prayer; or you may be like Beth, Vivian, Joan, and Linda who are called to the Altar Guild; or you may be like Gail who is called to be a Verger, or Steve who performs the various roles of chalice bearer, lector, and has led Morning Prayer. These are just a few examples from our own congregation.


Will you be open to listen and to say yes to your call when God calls you? Whatever that call is. 


I honestly believe there are those of you who have never fully discerned what God is saying to you and what you are called to do. It takes time and prayer. I believe there are those here today that God has chosen for this time to become ministers, whether as Clergy or Lay ministers.


If you are feeling that nudge and are still questioning, talk with Terry, talk with me, talk with anyone you trust who can pray with you.  


“But Sue, what if I fail?” And that’s a fair question. My response to you is, “What if you don’t fail?” What if, after your discernment and preparation, you find a beautiful pearl? 


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