December 26 – 1st Sunday after Christmas – Ministerial Education Fund

A Moment for Mission

“Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him.” — Colossians 3:17, CEB

Preacher’s kid Keith Nation recalls moving frequently as his father’s appointments changed. He loved making new friends at each new charge, he said, but it was also a challenge.

“As a pastor’s child,” Nation said, “the call to ministry was more difficult to discern. There was always a concern on my part that I might simply be trying to follow in my father’s footsteps. The United Methodist Church has supported me with mentors, discerning the call, a year in seminary, and now the course of study.”

With a graduate degree in engineering, Nation has primarily worked as an engineer for an automotive component supplier.

“Ministry is something done out of a sense of calling and joy,” he explained. “More than a hobby, it is a time-consuming joy that not only meets the needs of local churches but also gives back to my desire to serve in ministry.”

He is grateful for the Appalachian Local Pastors School, supported by the Ministerial Education Fund. ALPS’s mission is the spiritual and academic formation of individuals willing to identify with the people, share the gospel and develop strong and effective congregations.

“The educational aspect has been very good,” he said. “I have made new friends through ALPS, found creative new ways to share the gospel and solidified my calling as bi-vocational.”

Nation is a strong advocate of the Ministerial Education Fund. “Educating pastors is critical to our theological identity as Wesleyan,” he said.

Offertory Prayer
Loving God, thank you for individuals who discern and respond to your call to ministry. May we nurture them as they serve you in both speech and action. In your name, we pray. Amen.

From Discipleship Ministries: First Sunday after Christmas — God of our salvation, we are still feeling the Christmas glow. Our heads are filled with the sounds and smells and memories of the joy and love and the stable and the baby in the manger. When we read about the twelve-year-old Jesus being left behind, we sometimes wish we didn’t have to head back into the world. As we make our last gifts of the year to you, Lord help us see the mission you’ve put before us. Bethlehem is just the beginning of our work! We pray it in the holy name of Jesus, the Christ. Amen. (Luke 2:41-52)

Newsletter Nugget
Keith Nation’s road to the Appalachian Local Pastors School was circuitous, with stops at Memphis Theological Seminary, then to Illinois for his job, then back to Tennessee. Motivated by a colleague’s failure to complete the course of study, Nation was motivated “to get the ball rolling.”

Then, he said, “a God thing happened.” One of his children received a full scholarship from Martin Methodist College (now the University of Tennessee Southern) in Pulaski, Tennessee, where ALPS and MTS classes were also offered. Enrolling in ALPS also gave him an opportunity to spend time with his college-age daughter.

Nation is grateful for the Ministerial Education Fund. “If we ever hope to have the best and brightest in our pulpits,” he said, “we must be willing to give generously toward their education.

“I like to think I am changing the world by challenging people to see God as full of grace and love. Love can turn the world upside down.” 

Barbara Dunlap-Berg, freelance writer and editor, retired from UMCom

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