I’ve been collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries – ministries of service – expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners. This post you will hear from Laura Douglass who is an ordained deacon currently serving as Minister of Music at Asbury United Methodist Church in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Here are Laura’s words:
The journey into music ministry began as a child surrounded by a loving Baptist family and lots of hymn singing. My early piano lessons did not bear much fruit until I discovered hymns, and it didn’t take long to figure out that I could delay washing dishes by practicing them immediately after dinner. Before age ten, hymns became a path to the Spirit in the midst of many emotions. I remember praying for my Methodist cousins who “hadn’t seen the light.”
As an undergraduate majoring in music education I concentrated on piano, but also studied voice, strings and organ. During my final semester I took lessons with the new organ instructor whose energy and support were to open unimagined doors.
Following graduation she invited me to substitute at historic Union United Methodist Church in Washington DC where she served as Director of Music. While on vacation her family was involved in a tragic automobile accident, and a one Sunday commitment stretched to a dozen as she recovered from her injuries. I liked these United Methodists – their worship style, social principles, and the spirit of the diverse multi-generational congregation. When I moved to Northern Virginia later in the summer to begin my teaching career, Union UMC became my church home.
My position as a high school assistant choral director/accompanist put me in line to take the helm of an excellent choral program. With that goal I began graduate studies in music education and continued organ studies along with electives in church music. Ultimately I came to the conclusion that this was not my first calling. Simultaneously, I also discerned the importance for church musicians to be music educators, skilled performers, theologians, and compassionate leaders reflecting intellectual, spiritual and emotional maturity.
That journey continues. I am grateful for the grace and support offered by the Fairlington and Asbury UMC faith communities over thirty-five years of ministry in those settings. Music and the arts as a path to the Spirit continually inspire and nurture my faith journey. Ordination as a Deacon in Full Connection and living out my call with the Diaconate of the Virginia Conference and beyond bring many challenges and joys as I embrace not only my local congregation, but a community and world calling me into relationship with those beyond the church doors.