Former Young Adult Volunteer lives out her vocation in multiple ways
By Rosemary Mitchell | Mission Crossroads Magazine
Samantha Williams’ passion for her organic pancake-mix business is not driven solely by entrepreneurial ambition. It is also fueled by her sense of Christian vocation, which began to form more than a decade ago while she served as a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV).
Samantha and her employees mill Sunday Morning Pancake Mix in the kitchen of Woodland Presbyterian Church in Nashville. They make a nutritious nine-grain product, and Samantha insists on a process that reflects integrity, from ingredient procurement to packaging and marketing. Most of her employees are women who are coming out of homelessness.
A Presbyterian since high school, Samantha brings the values she learned in congregations and the YAV program into her vocational identity. However, she is quick to point out that vocation is about much more than one’s occupation.
“One of the really important pieces of the YAV program for me was vocational discernment,” she says. She learned that vocation is “not just about stuff you get paid to do, and it is not just about religious positions in the church.”
For example, she says, her Christian vocation extends to her role as a parent. She and her husband, Brian, are raising two elementary-aged boys. “Finding your call in the world can include raising your children in a way that represents your values and your faith,” Samantha says.
At Second Presbyterian Church in Nashville, which she and her family attend, Samantha sees her congregational service as a component of her vocational call. At Second, she has served on session, taught adult Sunday school, and led the associate pastor search committee.
While she loves her work at Second, she says the Young Adult Volunteer program’s vocational discernment process helped her discover she was not called to be a pastor. She finds her sense of vocation in many places, and she celebrates that. Her perspective mirrors our Reformed tradition, which values all vocations.
In her pancake-mix business, Samantha combines her calling to work for food justice and for an end to homelessness. She notes that the business produces a “healthy, sustainable, alternative” product and provides income and employment experience for women striving to overcome homelessness.
Samantha first arrived in Nashville in 2004 as a newly commissioned YAV. Based at Second Presbyterian’s YAV site, she ran a free tax preparation program for low-income Nashvillians that grew from three sites to 12.
After she finished her YAV year, the local United Way and Nashville’s metro government funded her position and invited Samantha to stay for an additional year. The Nebraska native and Hastings College graduate found a home in Nashville and has never left. Her heart also has remained close to the Presbyterian Church and the YAV program.
“I am impressed with the number of former YAVs who serve the church and not only in traditional ministry positions,” she shares. “YAVs aren’t just the future of the church. They are the current church.”
While walking beside others, YAVs grow in their faith, develop leadership skills and then share these gifts with our church for years to come. Thanks for supporting Young Adult Volunteers. We are a stronger church because of them.
Rosemary Mitchell is director of Mission Engagement and Support for the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is republished from the Spring 2018 issue of Mission Crossroads magazine, which is printed and mailed free to subscribers’ homes within the U.S. three times a year by Presbyterian World Mission. To subscribe, visit pcusa.org/missioncrossroads.
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To learn more about the Young Adult Volunteer program or to apply to serve as a YAV, visit youngadultvolunteers.org/apply. Apply by March 1 for international service and by June 1 for national service.
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