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Investing in Purpose - An Interview with Bishop Joe A. Wilson Interviewer: Tell us about your call to ministry. Bishop Wilson: I heard the call to ministry when I was 17 years old, participating in a youth group (MYF) at First Methodist Church in Orange, Texas. That was before we were The United Methodist Church. The year was 1954, and I was greatly inspired by two wonderful youth counselors, Sandy and Virginia Sanford. I asked for baptism at a Sunday evening service, led by our pastor, Rev. Herman Morgan. After that moment, Rev. Morgan was relentless, inviting me to give the benediction or prayer in the morning services, always calling on me by surprise. As a 17 year old, every invitation caused fear and trembling, but it solidified my calling and set me on a path to Southwestern University and Perkins School of Theology for the fulfillment of that calling. I never doubted nor swayed from my commitment to ministry in the local church.
Interviewer: When you are meeting with churches as a TMF Area Representative, one question comes up pretty frequently. What is that question? John: When I go to a church, one of the most frequently asked questions I receive from laity is this – How do I leave money to my church? On the flip side, staff are asking a similar question – How can we encourage people to leave money to the church?
“I think your truest self surfaces when you practice the discipline of giving,” First UMC Lubbock Rev. Dr. Craig Curry shared. “That self is transformed by what love has really done to us. God calls us together to accomplish his will on earth and our resources are his. As we give ourselves away, this new self blossoms, and we grow in our trust that God will replenish us.”
For leaders like Rev. Todd Salzwedel, Pastor of FUMC Odessa, his experience in TMF’s Entrepreneurial Pastors Group was transformative. “TMF is on the cutting edge of creating incubator groups for leadership development,” Todd noted. “Through this group, I have been given opportunities to be resourced for success and had the chance to network with other leaders who have helped me grow.”
I grew up in comfortable, but modest circumstances. There was not much talk of philanthropy in my childhood home, but both my parents were generous with others in small and subtle ways.
“My wife Kristie and I have developed a passion around supporting young clergy,” said Wesley Millican, explaining the drivers for the endowment he and his wife established at TMF to help pastors participate in TMF’s Leadership Ministry learning communities.