October 6th, 2023 | Rev. Dr. Mark Charles
This week I have been spending time in one the leadership roles I have within the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Residents in Ministry Program is a two year program designed to Provisional Elders and Deacons prepare for and journey towards their ordination. We gather them at four retreats across those two years with each one focusing on one of four areas – Theology, Leadership, Personal Growth, and Proclamation (Preaching). It’s holy work that I am passionate about and grateful to be involved in.
This week, we welcome a new class of Provisional Elders and Deacons, one of which will be well known to many of the grace-filled family at Memorial. Rev. Anna Brook Opalinski is the daughter of former Memorial Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Brett Opalinski (2006-2013). As she and I connected this week we got to talk about her time in Fernandina, what the Parsonage was like back then, and she shared some of her stories of being the pastor’s kid at Memorial and being in and out of the Partin Center.
It was great fun to listen to her, yet it was also profoundly inspiring for me that this young woman, who spent some of her most formative years at Memorial, has heard God’s call on her life to be ordained as an Elder in the United Methodist Church. The people of Memorial who welcomed her, or who prayed for her, or who taught her Sunday School, or who encouraged her along the way; all of these people had an impact on Anna Brook that has influenced her greatly and will create further ripples of impact in the lives of the people she ministers to.
We don’t always get to see how what we give makes a difference, but as we watch Rev. Anna Brook Opalinski continue her journey with Christ, we are getting a glimpse of how the generosity expressed in our community of Christian faith has a long lasting and far reaching impact.
In this stewardship season, as we reflect on what it is to be together on mission, may we continue to give joyfully and generously in the confidence that God is at work through it all in ways seen and unseen.