In 2015 I was collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners. In this post, you will hear from Lyn Harding who is an ordained deacon currently serving as a hospice chaplain in Richmond, Virginia. Here are Lyn’s words:
I was baptized as an infant in July of 1962. While I don’t remember my baptism, it was the beginning of my life in Christ and in the church. My parents were regular church-goers when we lived in Northern Virginia, and we participated fully in the life of the church; serving on and leading various committees, singing in the choir, ushering and counting the offering. I was active in the junior high group, Sunday School, and youth choir until we moved to Williamsburg, Virginia in 1976 when I was thirteen years old.
My parents chose to attend the downtown Presbyterian Church which I found boring and uninspiring. I preferred the non-denominational church across town. It was there that I discovered music was not only something I enjoyed listening to, it was the “window to my soul.” I found that when I was singing or listening to music, I felt close to God. Through music, my heart and mind opened to God’s presence.
When I was sixteen, my family became involved with a new church start later known as Wellspring UMC. Jay and Harriett Hanke were formative people in my life. Our family worshipped there together and we became charter members. It was a wonderful place for me to uncover my gifts and to discover the joy of using them to serve God and the church. I was allowed, at sixteen years old to direct the children’s choir! In addition, I served as a youth leader, choir member, and frequent soloist.
My first year of college was spent at Shenandoah College and Conservatory of Music in Winchester where I attended chapel services each week as well as services off-campus where I was a paid choir member. Deidre Kriewald was Chaplin at the time and was the first exposure I had to female clergy. I remember feeling a sense of pride that she was in a role traditionally held by men. It wasn’t until years later that I realized she was my first female clergy role model and thinking, “maybe I could do that too.”
I had some involvement with churches from 1982-85 while attending James Madison University, but no real commitment to them. After college, I attended various churches in Richmond but was not really active until I came to Reveille UMC in 1996. During a time of self-examination after my father’s death in 1997, I participated in a lot of volunteer work at RUMC with the youth, Caritas, choir and Disciple Bible Study. These experiences helped me realize the full potential of my gifts and skills and a realization that I was happiest using them in service to God and to the church. I know God has worked in my life to bring me to this point. All my experiences and influences were preparing me to come full circle from my baptism to a full-time vocation in the church.
In 2001 I married Roy a wonderfully supportive man and gained a step-son, RJ and a step-daughter, Lisa. I quit my job with a pharmaceutical company and went to seminary full-time. I also worked part-time as the Director of Youth Activities and Contemporary Worship Leader at RUMC. In June of 2003, I completed a Masters of Christian Education at Union PSCE. In 2004, Roy and I welcomed Noah to our family and I went to work at Shady Grove UMC in the Ashland District where I served as Minister of Outreach until 2009.
I completed ½ a unit of CPE and found that experience to be very informative and helpful around issues of pastoral care. I currently serve as Clinic Manager & Chaplain at CrossOver Healthcare Ministry and have a secondary appointment at New Song UMC in the Richmond District.