Ministry Inquiry Program Reflection
Julia Schmidt, 3rd year, Philosophy & Theology and History double major
This summer, through the ministry inquiry program, I was able to truly explore church ministry and focus on some issues of peace and justice in San Antonio, Texas. Most MIPers work exclusively in one church, but as a pre-law minor, I was able to spend half my week working at San Antonio Mennonite Church and half my time working at a non-profit immigration law firm. From my experiences both places, I was able to explore my own relationship with the church and the different paths that I could make a career out of to help make a more peaceful and just world. Before coming to San Antonio, I was pretty set on going to law school right after college to get my degree in international human rights law. After my time here, though, I am also considering seriously going to seminary. Either way I choose, I feel like this summer has better prepared me to take a more active role in the church and participating more fully on bringing God’s kingdom here on earth.
My time at San Antonio Mennonite Church was a whirlwind of all sorts of different activities. I felt like I was able to gain a glimpse at all the different sides of pastoring and experience for myself how it feels to be the pastor in an urban setting. During my time in San Antonio I preached a sermon, I led Lectio Devina, I worship led, I led several different types of prayer, helped with communion, attended stewardship, worship planning, MVS, elders, and advisory executive meetings, attended a women’s group, attended a book study, and much more. All these activities gave me a glimpse of ministry and a bigger picture of how the church functions as a whole.
During my summer in Texas, the pastor of the church left to take a class at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary for two weeks, and I was the one in charge of making sure everyone knew what was happening for the three Sunday mornings she was gone. During these weeks, I truly felt like a pastor. I did not have to preach, but when people had questions, they came to me. I really enjoyed sending out emails and making phone calls to the different people in the worship service to make sure everything was ready. One of these Sundays was Pentecost and the church met together with the Spanish-speaking Mennonite congregation in one of the local parks. I was involved with the planning of the service from the very beginning then that Sunday I worship-led together with the pastor of the Hispanic church. This experience was especially meaningful to me as I got to know the other pastor and seeing all the work that goes into one single service. Although I was glad when the pastor returned, I was thankful for the chance to fly solo for a couple of weeks and was surprised how much I enjoyed playing the role of the pastor.
A popular saying is “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” It is a silly saying, but I found that my time in Texas showed me a bigger vision of the church, and a bigger vision of God. I found a God here that is much bigger than anything I had ever known before. Through conversations and my different experiences I can say I found a deeper meaning of Christianity that needs to be lived out in my own life. Christianity is about loving God with everything you have. This comes by living in close relationship with others and learning to truly care for those around you, including immigrants, refugees, enemies, and even your fellow church members. I found hope here in Texas, that in the midst of a broken world, there is a church and a God that is at work within us. I do not know if I will become a pastor someday, but I know that I will be a better Christian because of my MIP experience.