Called to Ordained Ministry: A Long Strange Journey with God
My name is John Hutchinson from the United States of America, and I am called to ordained ministry. The secondary title of this profile should give some indication of my age. Currently, I live in Ozark, Missouri, but I have lived in 11 states and more residences than I care to count. A semi-retired college professor and administrator and currently work as a higher education executive search consultant, I am educated as a speech-language pathologist. My bachelor’s degree is from the University of Redlands, and a master’s and a doctorate are from Purdue University. Born and raised in Montana, it is where both of my parents were educators.
Called to Ordained Ministry and a Time of Humbling
In my early years, I grew up as a regular but not particularly devoted church attendee (Episcopal). When I went to college, as do many, I fell away from the church. I married, and when I completed graduate school, our first son was born. His birth was the impetus for me to return to church.
At that time, I experienced adult conversion and the first inklings of being called to ordained ministry. Several years later, I completed a rigorous three-year training program and received ordination as a Deacon in the Episcopal Church. I continued my work as an academic and functioned as a bi-vocational clergyman. After several more years of education under a mentor, I received ordination as an Episcopal Priest.
I accepted the position of Rector (lead minister) in an Episcopal parish in Missouri. I had great success and popularity – particularly suitable conditions for an attack by the enemy. My marriage fell apart, and I succumbed to an inappropriate relationship. I lost my holy orders and my job.
Rescued by God
It was in the wake of this that God rescued me. He did so in two significant ways: (1) He showed me that my liberal, anything goes, culturally focused theological worldview was but a house of cards and could not sustain me in a crisis. (2) He gave me a wonderful new wife, a devout Christian who, along with the Lord, loved me back into an orthodox, truly Christ-centered conviction. Between us, we have five children and nine grandchildren.
Through it all, I remained in the church. However, I would have to say that I’m not denominationally settled. There are essential emphases in most of the varied denominations. Because of my sin and deposition, there was no chance for reinstatement as an ordained minister in the Episcopal Church, nor in most other denominations, for that matter. However, the call to preach, teach, and celebrate the sacraments has never waned.
Renewed Calling and Study at CLI with Ordination at CLA
I have functioned in any number of important lay roles in the church. In it all, I tried to deny my deep inward calling. The COVID-19 pandemic scraped the top off of that denial. My wife and I started a neighborhood worship service on the lawn with proper social distancing. I once again had the chance to lead services and to share the Word of God. I have felt, and others have confirmed that it is time for me to return to ministry as an ordained person.
One evening, almost by accident, I stumbled upon the Christian Leaders Institute. As I listened to President Reyenga in one of his lectures, he said that we minister out of our sin because we know more than most how desperately a Savior is needed. “You have a calling,” he said, and I felt the Lord speaking directly to me through him. So I am seeking ordination through the Christian Leaders Alliance and hope to move on to complete the Commissioned Minister course.
Where this will ultimately lead, I have no idea. We live in a beautiful area abounding in recreational opportunities. For now, my ministry dream is to take the Word into campgrounds to serve those who are traveling and recreating. Therefore, as I write this, we are about to visit several campgrounds and see where the Lord leads us.