Ordination: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

[Note: In the fall of 2016, I began the journey towards ordination in a Christian movement known as Church of God (Anderson, IN). I recently completed all requirements and will be officially ordained this fall. The final assignment for my ordination is called the Life and Ministry Plan (L.A.M.P.). In essence, a L.A.M.P. acts as both the capstone for the ordination process as well as a unique guide and launchpad about one’s ministry, life, education, spiritual gifts, talents, skills, goals, and objectives. It combines theory and praxis. The L.A.M.P. is to be shared with the credentials committee as the candidate shares their heart for ministry in the past, present, and future. Now, I want to share it with all of you beautiful people!]

L.A.M.P. SUMMARY

Born in Florida, reared in Georgia, and educated in Indiana, I have many places to call home. I am Alyssa Rochelle Peterson-DeWitt and I believe that names are important. Both of my last names were a gift; one was a gift from my step father who adopted me in 2015 and the other was a gift from my husband when we got married in 2018. I had a different name when I felt called to ministry in 2010 at the International Youth Convention (IYC) of the Church of God in Orlando, Florida. While I had grown up in the church, it was this convention that set a fire in my heart for knowing God and making God known to others through my life’s work. I began to make my faith my own and this only expanded as I went to college at Anderson University (AU) where I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministries with two minors in Writing and Biblical Studies. I fell in love with studying theology and advocating for the merge between church and academia. Currently, I am pursuing my Master of Divinity from AU. I believe I am called to continue and complete my formal education. I am called to show compassion to others, whether it be through my words or my advocacy. I believe I am called to help others believe in themselves and see the worth in themselves because that is how God views them and has created them.

I believe names are important. When I think of ministry influences, there are two things that come to my mind: female pastors and grief. The female ministers who have shaped me and some continue to mentor me today are Rev. Dr. Kimberly Majeski, Rev. Dr. MaryAnn Hawkins, Rev. Dr. Lori Salierno-Maldonado, Rev. Dr. Sarah Blake LaRose, and Dr. Samantha Miller. These are women who have modeled what it is like to be an educated and strong female leader in the church. They all have very different personalities and leadership types, which has comforted me as I continue to learn about myself and my style of ministry and leadership. They have shown me that there is no one cookie cutter model of a minister. Grief has also shaped my understanding and practice of ministry because I lost someone very close to me in 2017. This loss has created deeper compassion in me towards the topic of mental illness as well as those themselves who walk through grief. As a mentor once taught me, “it cannot happen through you if it has not happened to you.” My experiences with grief have shaped me to be more compassionate, slow to listen, empathic, and connective.

In light of all of my different names and my calling, I present this document as my Life and Ministry Plan (L.A.M.P.). The following information is included:

  • A list of the assessment tools utilized in the process
  • My Biblical Purpose Statement
  • My Personal Mission Statement
  • My Goals/Objectives/Timelines/Resources for the coming year

ASSESSMENT TOOLS

  1. DISC Index
  2. TTI Success Insights Talent Insights
  3. IPAT Emotional Judgment Report
  4. Clifton StrengthsFinder Assessment (Empathy, Connectedness, Consistency, Intellection, Developer)
  5. Enneagram (Type Two: The Helper or Giver)
  6. PrepareEnrich (Premarital counseling program)

One of the first assessment tools I used in Leadership Focus (LF) is called the DISC Index. This test resulted in me as a “high C” which is also known as “compliance.” Through this test, I identified with the following qualities of a “high C”: enjoys independence, detail-oriented, and has objective reasoning. The DISC showed me that I am a leader who considers all options and values including others in a decision-making process. Furthermore, I am driven by and to serve others.

My personal favorite tool that we used in LF was the StrengthsFinder assessment. My top 5 Strengths resulted in Empathy, Connectedness, Consistency, Intellection, Developer. I have experienced more love, loss, life, ministry, and change in the past five years, which I believe is what led to my results that are more aligned in the “relationship building” category. These Strengths equip me to meet people where they are, just as Jesus would, and invite them into a safe place so that they can begin to explore what it would look like to develop a relationship with God.

Two other tools that have been beneficial to me as a minister but were not required of Leadership Focus are PrepareEnrich and the Enneagram. In the summer of 2018, my husband and I participated in the PrepareEnrich test, curriculum, and counseling as premarital preparation for our wedding. Although our counselor said that we received the highest “scores” he had ever seen for a couple, we learned so much about ourselves and one another through the evaluation and subsequent conversations. The most important thing I learned was how different our communication styles were from one another. Therefore, communication would always require intentional work, and we may often need to over communicate. This has been true in all areas of my life as I am learning that everyone communicates in a different manner. The Enneagram aided me as I have learned what it means to be a type two (the helper or giver). Type Two’s are support-oriented, but almost to the point of self-destruction if healthy boundaries and plans of self-care are not established. The Enneagram pointed out that sometimes I may want to help for the wrong reasons because I seek my own affirmation and support by helping others, which could be manipulative. It is great to learn both our strengths and shadow sides so that we can be effective ministers of the Gospel.

BIBLICAL PURPOSE STATEMENT

Reflecting upon my short twenty-four years of life and the calling God has placed upon my life, I recall the summer of 2010 where I attended the Church of God’s International Youth Convention (IYC) in Orlando, Florida. I felt as though I heard the audible voice of the Lord speak to me and say that I will be sent out into the world, perhaps another country, as a messenger of the Good News (Isaiah 6:8). My other catalytic moment is broader and encompasses my experience at Anderson University (AU), both as an undergraduate and graduate student. The university has both affirmed my calling and shaped me as an equipped and confident minister. 

As I have pursued my education at AU and my ordination track through Leadership Focus, the scripture of Isaiah 43:19 has both brought me comfort and centered me on this long journey: “I am about to do a new thing; not it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” At times, it feels like I am in the middle of the wilderness, but God makes a river in the desert and brings forth new life. That promise has centered me as I have been on this three-year journey of credentials and ordination.

Furthermore, my understanding of God and my sense of calling and connectivity to the kingdom is very interwoven. The nature of God is complex and cannot be fully contained to words and human categories. I believe that the nature of God begins with love (1 John 4:8). The nature of God is represented by spirit and Jesus (John 4:24; Mark 14:62; Exodus 3:14) Jesus is both God and the word incarnate (John 1:1-5). The nature of God is also a nature of reconciliation (John 3:17; 2 Corinthians 5:18). God’s nature is also forgiving due to God’s vast love (Colossians 3:13). The nature of God exudes hope (1 Peter 1:3-6). The nature of God is to choose us and bless us through Christ (Ephesians 1:3-5). God is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness… forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7). In conclusion, I believe that each person sees and encounters God in a different way than the next person, but it is my hope that I may share how I believe in and encounter God with others so that they would be attracted to the Gospel message in a way that they have never before felt it. 

PERSONAL MISSION STATEMENT

I, Alyssa Peterson-DeWitt, having been called and formed for the ministry of Biblical reconciliation dedicate myself to an ethical code of conduct in both my ministry and personal life. May my life be seen as an example of a living sacrifice to God and edifying for the body of Christ at large. 

Responsibilities to Self

  • I will maintain a regular discipline of self-care as an act of both honoring the Sabbath, my mind and body, my loved ones, and my ministry.
  • I will be a lifelong learner; education does not stop at an institution, but I recognize that in order to grow as a person and a minister, I must continue learning in order to best serve God and others
  • I will dedicate time to my studies and ministry preparations
  • I will continue living a healthy and active lifestyle
  • I will act with truth, compassion, and grace in all areas of my life and towards all persons
  • I will maintain a balance between my personal and my professional life, especially in the realm of social media. I will not private message parishioners on social media platforms but direct to a phone call or face-to-face meetings
  • I will seek out and maintain a mentor/mentee relationship from someone that can understand my service in ministry and offer me unbiased counsel
  • I will continue counseling as an act of self-care for myself, my loved ones, and my congregants
  • I will take regular days off as well as vacation time with my family

Responsibilities to Family

  • I will treat each family member with love and respect
  • I will balance my time between my loved ones and my ministry, but always remembering that my family comes first
  • I will remain faithful to my partner/significant other. We will build each other up in love and encouragement with regard to our callings and our lives together.

Responsibilities to Congregation

  • I will take seriously my calling as a minister and strive to be a humble servant and messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ 
  • I will equally view and treat all congregants with love, grace, and dignity
  • I will keep counseling conversations confidential unless the need arises to report local authorities due to a dangerous or abusive situation
  • I will not discriminate against my congregants; all persons are equal and of infinite worth

Responsibilities to the Community

  • I will continue to view my community as of equal importance to my community; ministry is not confined within the church walls
  • I will grow intentional relationships with local persons as we come to do ordinary life together at dog parks, coffee shops, grocery stores, and elsewhere.
  • I will continue to encourage my community to take action with social justice issues in our own backyard

Responsibilities to my Denomination

  • I will continue to foster relationships with my Church of God network both in my state fellowship and outside of it
  • I will serve the movement to the best of my ability so that we may continue to move towards holiness and unity in love and service to one another

 

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS

PERSONAL

  1. Write at least 20 minutes a day in order to continue developing my writing hobby and skills
    1. Resources:
      1. Regular nightly reading for inspiration
      2. The Moth (podcast)
      3. Bible and Common Book of Prayer
      4. Homiletics course (Summer 2019)
    2. Timeline:
      1. Read every night before bed (instead of playing on phone)
      2. Write a piece by Wednesday each week
      3. Edit by Thursday each week
      4. Post new piece by Friday each week
  2. Get 8,000 steps a day
    1. Resources:
      1. Fitbit
      2. Harry Potter Wizards Unite
    2. Timeline:
      1. Begin July 2019
      2. September: bump to 10,000 steps/day
  3. Extra intentional one-on-one time with spouse apart from daily time together
    1. Resources:
      1. In-laws
      2. Google calendar
    2. Timeline:
      1. Plan honeymoon for 2019
      2. Book tickets for 2019 honeymoon trip by end of July 2019
      3. By October 2019, have 2020 vacation time blocked out for personal and family trips

PROFESSIONAL

  1. Complete my Master of Divinity
    1. Resources:
      1. AU SOTCM assigned courses and textbooks
      2. Books assigned by mentor for current internship course
    2. Timeline:
      1. 2 Classes in summer 2019, fall 2019, spring 2020, and CPE in summer 2020
      2. Walk at graduation in May 2020
      3. Complete degree by August 2020
  2. Participate in CPE
    1. Resources:
      1. Friends/peers who have complete CPE
      2. CPE adviser
      3. CPE program(s) in Georgia 
    2. Timeline:
      1. Spring or summer 2020 
  3. Complete Leadership Focus and Church of God ordination
    1. Resources:
      1. Leadership Focus
      2. Current assignments/projects
    2. Timeline:
      1. Complete LF August 2019
      2. Tentative ordination service for Aug 2019

PUBLIC

  1. Tip 20% (especially with my nail tech and waitress at local Thai restaurant)
    1. Resources:
      1. Bank account
    2. Timeline:
      1. I get my nails done 1x a month
      2. We eat Thai at least every 2 weeks
  2. Engage in intentional conversations to service persons I regularly encounter at grocery stores and coffee shops
    1. Resources:
      1. Bank account
      2. Kroger
      3. Starbucks 
    2. Timeline:
      1. Grocery shop 1x/week (seek regular cashier)
      2. Coffee shop 1x/week

As I have previously shared in my L.A.M.P., as a young child, my faith was not my own. I sat in church and received the word. When I became a young adult, I learned how to question and wrestle the text. I learned that God and scriptures could handle, even welcome my questions and doubts. God has worked in my life through academia and through personal relationships, especially my marriage. I am learning that marriage is the most humbling journey. In Leadership Focus, I have learned how to apply theory outside of the ivory towers of academia. Right now, God is teaching me to slow down so that I can savor each moment. I pray that I can continue to do that with my L.A.M.P. and life moving forward, so that I can see the divine in each moment and not take on too many tasks so as to miss the opportunity of sharing Jesus with my neighbor.

 

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