Cheryl Hollinger

Cheryl Hollinger

Current Church

Forest Hills Mennonite Church

Denomination

Mennonite

Education

BS in Early Childhood Education, Eastern Mennonite University, 1984.

Ministry

Experience

My earliest recognizable periods of ministry were the three summers I worked as a Camp counselor. I loved those weeks. One week the camp pastor called off sick and I was asked to step into that role. I remember having such joy as I prepared the lessons.
Later, I spent a year in Homestead, Florida in a voluntary service role. I enjoyed preparing Bible story evenings for the migrant children in our community.
After completing my degree, I worked as a kindergarten and first grade teacher from 1985-1990; not a traditional ministry role, but I saw my work as ministry.
During my three sons’ early years, I operated a home daycare for four years – again a role I considered ministry.
From 1994-2005, my husband and I served as Church Development Workers in Pontypridd, Wales in the United Kingdom. That was my first experience of church work ministry. I loved interacting with people of many ages.
Since 2005, I have been on the staff of Forest Hills Mennonite Church where I currently serve as Associate Pastor of Spiritual Formation and Nurture.

Call

From childhood I was intrigued by missionaries and longed to follow the footsteps of two aunts and an uncle who served as missionaries. As the daughter and granddaughter of ministers, I also pictured myself married to a minister – because I loved church. Being a female pastor never crossed my mind because it was not a viable option. Later, I chose a teaching route as my vocation because I loved kids and loved teaching and nurturing people.
When the opportunity later came to serve in a mission setting, my husband (also a teacher) and I eagerly embraced it, grew in ministry gifts, and thrived. I felt like I had found my niche.

After our return to the USA, I began working for a church that affirmed my gifts. I was encouraged to begin seminary classes. As I attended classes and looked back at my spiritual journey, I discovered a ministry thread that was at the core of who I was throughout my life. It had been cultivated and affirmed in a variety of ways. That realization led to my willingness to be licensed and later ordained by Atlantic Coast Conference.

Seminary

As a mature student at the Lancaster campus, I was hugely enriched as I sat under the teaching of capable teachers and interacted with other pastors and students from other vocations. Most of the students brought with them a wealth of experience and varied perspectives. Every class I took was worthwhile and stretched me – opening up my mind and my world. Even carpooling, when a class was out of my area, became a rich time of fellowship and interaction related to material we were studying.

Favorite classes

Every class I took enhanced my role as a pastor. But the series of classes that stuck out the most was Formation in God’s Story and Formation in Ministry. Through these classes I got to know myself, my call and received many practical aids and understandings for being in ministry in a church setting. I also was so blessed by the small group interaction that accompanied those classes. Hearing other peoples’ stories enriched my life and helped me to be more aware of God’s movement in my own life. It also provided me with a safe place for sharing questions and concerns about my ministry experiences.

Advice for Prospective Students

While I wish I had gone to seminary earlier in my life, I’m glad I had life experiences to bring to this educational experience. No matter what age or stage of life, seminary classes are worth taking!