young-seminarian-justinIt’s no secret to the lovely people of Candler that I’m a Nazarene—no, not like I’ve taken a Nazarite vow, but that I’m a district licensed minister in the Church of the Nazarene. There are a few of us around these parts, the faithful remnant of Israel, the sanctified surrogates of holiness… or something like that. Some like to give us a hard time about it; other times we give ourselves a hard time—like that time I posted this picture on Valentine’s Day of me dating the Bible while drinking a glass of milk instead of wine.

It’s also no secret that I am in a season of discernment as to my denominational future. My denomination is facing the same issues so many other denominations are facing, leaving myself, and others, wondering what the future will hold for the life of the ordained minister. I can think of countless seminarians my age confronting the same question I find myself confronting: Do I stay or do I go?

Over the summer, Candler’s Advanced Summer Ministry Internship program has given me the opportunity to spend time as an intern at Christ Church United Methodist in Louisville, Kentucky. I felt a slight twinge of worry as I put “Church of the Nazarene” on my application. For a Methodist student, a summer internship at a large church could be an invaluable opportunity to gain experience, to network, and to add a bullet point on a resume submitted to other Methodist churches in the future. It came as a little bit of a surprise to me, then, when I got the call.

What has blown me away about my experience in Louisville this summer is how this church has gathered around me as members of the global Church to help me discern my future. The staff here has truly been impartial as they have offered me their guidance and wisdom. They even gave me time off so that I could attend the Church of the Nazarene’s General Assembly, and then rejoiced with me as I reported back to them what an encouraging time it was. What they want more than anything, they have told me, is to help me find my place in God’s story—a story where we are all on the same team serving the same Christ. If I decide to stay, they feel like they have done their job well. If I decide to go, they also feel like they have done their job well, as long as it’s the right choice for the ongoing work of God in the world.

I am beyond thankful to Candler for this opportunity, and for the love these Methodist brothers and sisters have shown me this summer. As to where I’ll eventually end up… well, I’ll keep you posted.