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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, August 5, 2006

Happy to answer God's call

By The Rev. Anne Findlay-Chamberlain

Friends and members of my congregation in Hana, Maui, kept asking, "Why in the world would you move to Honolulu?" And people in Honolulu wonder, "You left Hana for the traffic and congestion and crowding of O'ahu?"

Similar questions arose seven years ago, when I left a satisfying and financially stable career as a counselor to embark on the journey of pastoral ministry.

That journey began long ago, when as a 3-year-old I lined up my dolls and played church, rather than school. There were moments of transcendence, when I knew both in my mind and in my heart that I was experiencing the presence of God.

I experienced those moments as a child in Vacation Bible School as we sang worship songs and in walks along the stream in the woods behind our house; as a teen witnessing the power of a summer thunderstorm complete with lightning and in hearing something read from the Bible and knowing that those words were for me; and as an adult experiencing the birth of our sons and seeing the beauty of Hawai'i.

There was a sense that God was wooing me, leading me to know and experience God's presence, to help others on their journey, to look for God moments in my daily life, and to help others look for those moments, as well.

That is what pastoral ministry is all about for me. It is an urge to know more and experience more of God and to assist others doing the same. We become co-travelers on a quest for God.

I can think of nothing I'd rather do (although any day at the beach or on the golf course is a close second). There are many ministry opportunities available; all denominations are experiencing a shortage of pastors, and ministry is certainly not limited to the organized (or disorganized) church.

While most denominations require a master's degree in divinity (how funny is that concept!), alternatives are rapidly opening up. Here in Hawai'i, the United Church of Christ has training opportunities through the Henry 'Opukaha'ia Center, and people in mid-life or even later can receive the necessary training to minister in the church.

Thus it happened on one of my first Sundays at Nu'uanu Congregational Church, after our two English-language services, our Japanese-language service led by Pastor Eiko Soranaka, and the Nu'u Lotu Samoan service led by Pastor To'o'ofie Paogofie, that I was back at church for a 4 p.m. meeting of UCC congregations on O'ahu. Our purpose was to listen to the stories and review the Biblical reflections of four Samoan pastors, with a combined 100-plus years in ministry. It was a joyous occasion to affirm for ordained ministry these four pastors.

So when someone asks why I left Hana for Honolulu, my response is that I am either called or crazy. And maybe, just maybe, you might be next.

After serving as the kahu of Wananalua Congregational Church in Hana for three years, the Rev. Anne Findlay-Chamberlain is currently the senior interim minister at Nu'uanu Congregational Church.