Well, this afternoon I drove to Murfreesboro for my first meeting as a member of a particular church committee. I was kind of nervous about it, frankly, but it turned out fine.
I can’t really tell you anything at all about what we discussed, because of the confidential nature of it, but I’ll tell you where I was and how I got there.
Several months ago, I got a phone call one evening from the Rev. Chris Haynes. When a United Methodist minister – familiar or unfamiliar – calls me on a weeknight, my first thought is that I’m being called on to fill the pulpit in my role as a certified lay speaker. I don’t believe I’d met Chris before, but I had no reason to think any different that night.
But Chris wasn’t sick or getting ready to travel; he was calling me for another reason entirely.
“I’m calling to ask if you’ll serve on the district committee on ordained ministry,” he said.
Then, I jumped to another conclusion.
“Oh, I understand. You didn’t mean to call me; you meant to call my father, Rev. Jack Carney. His number is ….”
But that was just as mistaken as my first thought. It turns out the committee, known to clergy and Murfreesboro District officials as “D-COM,” has both ordained clergy and lay people as members.
The committee talks to candidates for ordained ministry at various points in the process and makes recommendations related to whether they should proceed. We’re only making recommendations, not the final decision, but still, it’s a pretty important matter. I wondered whether I’d have anything to add.
So I drove to the Murfreesboro District office in Murfreesboro this evening.
But – again, without any details at all – I thought the meeting went OK tonight, and I felt comfortable. I’m sure we’ll have tougher interviews, and tougher decisions, in the months ahead, but I feel a lot better about it now.
It helped that the first person I saw on the committee was my pal Ruthan Patient, director of lay servant ministries for the Murfreesboro District. Ruthan always puts me at ease, and she did so tonight. She even had a certificate for me – something she’d been meaning to give me since last November but didn’t want to mail, saying that I was grandfathered in under the old rules for certified lay speakers.
I’m looking forward to getting to know the other committee members and seeing where this heads going forward. Hopefully, my experience as a preacher’s kid will come in handy at some points as well.