One of our outreach priorities is "Evangelism and Church Planting: We value evangelism and church planting in the context of authentic friendships and welcoming community. We seek to empower female and minority church leaders." We are delighted to be a congregation with so many postulants in the ordination process, preparing for church leadership. One of those postulants, Katie Hamlin, has just returned from life in Thailand and will be ordained at 10am on Saturday, October 3 (you're all invited via Zoom!). We invited Katie to introduce herself and share a bit of her story for this week's outreach update.
A few days ago, a colleague who has already been ordained as a transitional deacon prayed that my upcoming ordination would be an Ebenezer, a moment to remember just how far the Lord has brought me throughout my life and the past four years of study and work. What a lovely prayer, because of course, he is right. While an ordination service is a moment when the church comes together to recognize and commission a person for a particular role in the church, it is also a time for the person being ordained to give thanks for the Lord’s care and provision through his church.
I can still remember all the swirling emotions when I approached Liz Gray in the spring of 2016 and stumbling asked what I should do if I perhaps, maybe, might be feeling called to ordained ministry. Well, Liz said, warmly and briskly, we have a process for sorting out your call and it begins by establishing a parish discernment committee. And so I spent much of the summer of 2016, writing essays and answering questions on all aspects of my life and faith from people at Restoration Anglican in Arlington who I barely knew, but trusted for their God-gifted wisdom and love for me and my family. And then after a long summer of prayer and introspection, my discernment committee wrote a report for the diocese’s ordination committee confirming my call and prayed sweet prayers of blessing over me.
And from there, it was a swirl of further interviews with the diocesan ordination committee and the bishop and then with the examining chaplains, who determine your course of study in preparation for ordination. And along every step of the way, some of which were very challenging for me and my family, I felt upheld and carried along by the prayers of the church. Whenever I felt like giving up or felt flooded by self-doubt, God would use his people to bolster my faith and confidence that this was his desire for me. I have a whole journal filled with the prayers and words of encouragement that have nurtured me on this journey over the past five years and I have returned to them often as a source of affirmation and consolation.
Then our family left the US just at the start of my seminary studies to begin three and a half years of study and work in Bangkok, Thailand. While Darin worked and my kids studied, so did I. I took one course at a time through a hybrid-distance program at Nashotah House in Wisconsin while serving at Christ Church Bangkok. During our time in Bangkok, we also connected with Incarnation Anglican, which was commissioned not long after we left the US. It was Incarnation’s vision for evangelism, outreach, and raising up minority voices and leaders in the church that led me to transfer my postulancy (my process of preparation for ordination) from Restoration to Incarnation.
While I was working at Christ Church preaching, leading bible studies and Alpha, working to support our parish families (particularly our refugee families), and finally guiding our ministry to children and youth, it was lovely to know that we had a congregation in the US that was faithfully praying for us and a Bishop and diocesan ordination committee that was prayerfully reading my quarterly reports. This also meant that when we could, we would try to dip into the life of Incarnation, attending a service when we were home last summer, attending morning prayer during our pandemic lockdown and finally, I preached a very early morning sermon this past spring (Thai time!).
And so it seems quite fitting to be coming to ordination, back in the place where this process began just over five years ago. I’m not the person I was five years ago and Incarnation was just an idea when we left for Bangkok. But aren’t both journeys – my journey to ordination and Incarnation’s journey to becoming a congregation – a wonderful testament to God’s faithful love for his children. I would be delighted if you would make space in your schedule to attend my ordination by Zoom on Saturday, Oct. 3 at 10 am and if you can’t make it, please remember me and my family in your prayers. I am excited to serve you in the coming year as a deacon and so please do reach out to me in the coming weeks and months as I begin to get to know the Incarnation community and to settle into life in the US. My family and I are so thankful to be with you in this season.