UTO Staff Transitions
By: The Rev. Canon Michelle Walker
When I first perceived a call to the priesthood, it seemed nearly impossible to me. With two toddlers, a husband with a full-time career, and no church to call home, I toyed with the idea of “pretending it wasn’t real.” I remember thinking at the time that no one knew about my vision, the hearing of Jesus’ voice, the imperative of “Michelle, you are going to be a priest” except me. If I pretended it didn’t happen, who could prove me wrong?
That thought lasted about five minutes before I remembered the story of Jonah. You remember Jonah, right? God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh and remind the people there of their wickedness and urge them to repent. Jonah didn’t WANT to do that, so he tried to flee … only to be swallowed by a “large fish” and to spend three excruciatingly long days in its belly before being spewed out upon dry land. Then he followed God’s command. Wouldn’t you as well?
Since that moment more than 13 years ago, I’ve learned to listen more closely to God’s voice in my life. I’ve gotten quicker at responding to the whispers of the Holy Spirit. And when that quiet voice of the Christ said, “Michelle, it’s time to get back into parish ministry,” I knew to pay attention.
In an opportunity I hadn’t seen coming, and with timing so quick it had to be from the Holy, I have accepted a call to become the part-time priest of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in LaPorte, Indiana – my hometown. I am thrilled to be stepping into parish ministry again, in the church that provided my first ever Episcopal experience and where both of my children were baptized. I am also sad to be stepping away from the ministry of the United Thank Offering.
These past 18 months with UTO have been enlightening. To bear witness to the many ministries supported by UTO has been my greatest joy. And to see how a volunteer board of 15 women can enliven the good work of being grateful and sharing that gratitude around the world has amazed me. I am thankful for the opportunity both to learn from and provide support to this ministry of UTO. I have enjoyed interacting with grant recipients and assisting on all kinds of projects. It has been more of a blessing than I could have imagined.
So, it is with both sadness in the goodbyes and joy in the hellos that I step away from UTO and begin my call as Priest-in-Charge effective May 1. UTO will always hold a special place in my heart and will continue to be a ministry I support both in prayer and in contribution. I thank you for your prayers and well-wishes. And I leave you with this lovely reminder of the mission of UTO (from the side of the Blue Box):
Notice the good things that happen each day.
Give thanks to God for your blessings.
Make an offering for each blessing.
Every offering is given to God’s mission in the world.
Your blessings become blessings for others. Amen!