The Heart of My Call to Ordination is in Mission Work...

President JFK was assassinated when I was almost five. I remember sitting in front of the TV watching the news stories and crying – I knew the man who had been shot helped poor people; people who were not like me. All I could think of was, “Who is going to help them now?” I recall believing that God somehow wanted me to do something but I couldn’t imagine what.

Mission and Ministry

 

Although I spent lots of hours volunteering in places like the Texas School for the Blind, Head Start care centers, and nursing homes as an adolescent, I was 30 before I went on my first mission trip to Appalachia. That was my first look at poverty up close. The Appalachia Service Project was the tool God used to change my life. Since then I’ve connected with the poor in Africa, Mexico, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Colorado, and all across Texas.

On the way home from Appalachia in 1989 (the first of nine trips there), I found myself at the bottom of the Nantahala River in North Carolina during a white water rafting trip. It took three tries for them to catch me and pull me out of those class IV rapids. At the bottom of the river I could see myself drowning. I knew my life was over. I asked God to take care of my children and my husband . . . and I prepared to die. I returned home forever changed, ready to listen and to obey.

Ordination and Years of Service

 

The Southwest Texas Annual Conference was the home where I was ordained Deacon in 1994. In that same year I organized, led, and wrote the curriculum for the first Central Texas Conference Youth in Mission (CTCYM) program. We took 350 youth and adults to Missouri and Kansas rebuilding homes after the floods of 1993 had receded. As a result of that work, Bishop Joe Wilson invited me to become a part of the CTC and I accepted.

Since that time I have served congregations throughout Central Texas. In 1997 I graduated from Perkins and in 1999 I was ordained Elder in the Central Texas Annual Conference. CTCYM has grown to over 1800 participants. I've returned to Appalachia nine times. In all, I've led some twenty mission trips primarily with youth and as many members of my family as I could coax to go along while serving congregations in Chatfield/Barry; Wortham/Kirvin; Fort Worth; Grapevine; and far north Fort Worth (Alliance). The smallest had a rousing 10 in worship; the largest 350.

Service & Passions

 

Looking back, the past four years of service on the cabinet of the Central Texas Conference have been some of the most rewarding of my ministry. I love my work. Transitioning into a new way of superintending has not been easy – but I don’t think superintending the “old way” was easy either. As the CTC has gone through “The Exodus Project” and realigned from seven districts to five there have been plenty of wilderness days. Some seasons are indeed parched and dry. But God is still at work and the rainy seasons do blossom with new life and hope of transformation.

Beginning the year I was ordained elder, serving on the Board of Ordained Ministry has been a foundation of my ministry. Chairing the Conference Relations Committee was exceptionally difficult work, and I pray I brought integrity, courage, and faithfulness to the task. For the four years I was chair of the Order of Elders I worked to clarify the role and work of that body. Since the year I was ordained elder, I’ve invested myself in the work of the District Committee on Ordained Ministry, striving to pass on the gifts of both grace and high standards of accountability that help us serve with excellence.

© 2012 Virginia O. Bassford

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