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New Elders Speak on Call and Ordination in Anxious Times
Episode 2026th July 2022 • Be Encouraged with Bishop Julius C. Trimble • Bishop Julius C. Trimble
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Bishop Julius C. Trimble is the Resident Bishop of the Indiana Area of the United Methodist Church.

Bishop Trimble has the personal mission to encourage all people with the love of Jesus Christ to rise to their highest potential. It is his commitment to his personal mission that led Bishop Trimble to create the “To Be Encouraged” Podcast along with co-host Rev.Dr. Brad MIller.

Bishop Trimble says, “I am compelled by Jesus to share with you an encouraging word or two about Jesus, theology, the bible, the pandemic, the environment, racism, voting rights, human sexuality, and the state of the United Methodist Church.”

To Be Encouraged with Bishop Julius C. Trimble is to be published weekly and is available at www.tobeencouraged.com and all the podcast directories.

https://www.inumc.org/bishop/office-of-the-bishop/

Rev. Keith Turner

kturner@cohmuncie.org

cohmuncie.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/keith.a.turner

Instagram: @itskeithturner

Twitter: @itskeithturner

TikTok: @itskeithturner

Rev. Hannah Wiswasser

hannah.wiswasser@inumc.org

Rev. Don Zlaty

Flora UMC

https://www.facebook.com/floraumc

https://www.facebook.com/pastordonz

www.floraumc.com

Transcripts

Rev. Dr. Brad Miller:

Hello good people. Welcome to the to be in couraged podcast with Bishop Julius C trebled. This is the podcast, where we look to impose or ask her to have a vision of an encouraging word for a discouraged world. I'm your co host, Reverend Dr. Brad Miller and elder and the NEA and the Indiana conference United Methodist Church and our topic today our privileges to talk to three brand new elders in the Indiana area of The United Methodist Church. Today we have with us Reverend Don is laude from the Florida United Methodist Church and Indiana. We have Reverend Hannah WIS Wasser, who's on the staff at the Plainfield United Methodist Church as the associate pastor there. And we have Reverend Keith Turner, from the community of Hope United Methodist Church in Muncie, Indiana. And we curse we have our resident Bishop of Indiana Bishop Julius see trouble. Bishop, welcome to the podcast and help us welcome these good guests here.

Bishop Julius Trimble:

A great, great, great bread and welcome Don, and Hannah and Keith. It's a blessing to have you with this. Elders, ordained elders, our clergy, clergy persons in the Indiana conference ordained to preach the word serve the sacraments and lead the people of God in worship and witness in the communities that we've been privileged to serve. So I counted all joy and a blessing to have these three colleagues and clergy members of the Indiana conference to serve there, there are three of three of those who were ordained and not the whole class of ordinance. But we're privileged to have these three and hopefully we'll have others to talk about ministry in these current times that we've been privileged to serve. In the season. I say this often, this is our season. We don't get to pick the seasons. But this is our season. So with all the joys and all the challenges, I think we can face them if we do it together.

Brad Miller:

With thank you for sharing that bishop. And we do welcome Don and Keith and Hannah to our podcast here today. And I like to start things by getting just a little bit about your faith history. And Hannah, Westwater pastor of Plains United Methodist Church, can you just share with us just a little bit about your how you came to know Christ in the first place, and how that eventually led you to your role as an elder right now? I know that's a big question. But can you give us just an idea of what that's about for you?

Hannah Wiswasser:

So then thank you for having me. It's a joy to be here. My parents moved to fishers and founded a Presbyterian church with a group of others. And so I was the first child baptized in that church, which was a huge honor. Although I don't remember it. But we joined a United Methodist Church when I was about three or four, shortly before my younger brother was born. And I really grew up in that church. I did all of the things that a kid in church would do. I sang in the children's choir, and they put me in front of the mic, which was a huge honor. I went through Vacation Bible School, and then when I aged out from VBS, I would help I got to do the drama skits, which was so much fun to teach the Bible stories to the younger kids as they came through. I went through youth group and felt the call to ministry when I was 15. It's one of my favorite stories to tell because it starts in the Texas Roadhouse. And I was at the end of my freshman year in high school, went out to dinner with my family to our local Texas Roadhouse and had this really good conversation with our waiter that evening, about the importance of youth having a place where they could ask honest questions about both life and faith and receive honest answers. Not answers that poo pooed their questions, not answers that were Oh will tell you when you're older, but answers that were honest and real. And just the importance of youth having a place in the church. And that really started the wheels turning in my head. Because when I looked at what I enjoyed doing it was it was being involved in church. I loved youth group. I loved Bible study. I love service projects and So that started some important conversations with my youth pastor with both the senior pastor and the associate pastor. And I was fortunate to grow up in a church that always had a female pastor on staff. And so it was something that I knew I could do. I knew I could preach, I knew I could serve sacraments. And as I continued to discern, during high school during college, I felt called to to be an elder in the United Methodist Church, I loved being able to journey with people loved being able to teach, to do life with people, and to be involved with their faith journey. In college, I added a mental health aspect. I was a psychology major. And I think that finding ways that the church can address mental health holistically. And not simply just if you prayed more, it'll go away. And so that's a little bit about my ministry journey, and what has brought me

Brad Miller:

Thank you. Thank you for sharing Hannah, really appreciate that I've ever Keith Turner from community of hope and Muncie. If you don't mind share a similar thing. I'd love to hear a little about your faith story, what brought you to Christ in the first place, and how that matriculated eventually to your present role as an elder in the church.

Keith Turner:

Well, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be with you in this innovative format. It's a joy to be here. I grew up in West Virginia in a church of God Anderson congregation, never realizing that in my adulthood, I would be serving and ministering and the United Methodist Church, 25 minutes away from the headquarters of the Church of God, Anderson, but that was where my family attended. All my youth all my growing up. But I also attended a private Baptist Academy, from kindergarten through my senior year of high school. So when God called me to ministry at the age of 14, I not only had a very supportive family, a supportive church, but also a supportive school that nurtured me in that call and gave me opportunity to express my gifts in ministry. So I'm grateful for that. When I went off to college, I spread my wings a little bit and explored other theological traditions beyond the Church of God, I did go to a school in the Wesleyan holiness tradition. But I joined a Presbyterian congregation, and later became a disenfranchised with the art at Calvinism, and needed a safe place to explore my own theology, and to reevaluate the received theology that I had. And so I joined the Episcopal Church, and was an Episcopalian into my seminary years, and had actually entered the process to be ordained and Episcopal priest. Unfortunately, that setting was a very toxic diocese and a series of unfortunate events. Later, my ordination process collapsed, and I submitted a termination letter. In what was really one of the darkest seasons of my ministry formation years, my United Methodist colleagues surrounded me with love and support. And frankly, this is the moment we've all been waiting for. And really, they loved me right into the United Methodist Church. They affirmed my call, they gave me a place to preach, to serve, and really to continue to grow in that call to ministry. And my United Methodist colleagues from Indiana brought me here in 2017. And I declared candidacy shortly thereafter, and here I am, five years later, an ordained elder. So from church of God Baptist to throw in a little bit of charismatic throw in a little bit of Lutheranism, Episcopalian, the Thomas J, Heinz 57 variety. And here I am, and my UMC colleagues say, well, at least you'll land in the right spot.

Brad Miller:

Well, there's quite a story there in and of itself, and we appreciate you being here and sharing with us today, Keith and Don's Laddie, who is the pastor at the Florida United Methodist Church. I got to meet you in the past a little bit and get to know you a little bit I know you have a passion for Christ or for the church. Tell us a bit about how you came to know Christ in the first place, and how that eventually led you through a series of, of extraordinare events become an elder United Methodist Church right

Don Zlaty:

now, where I would love to I want to thank you for inviting me on. That was great. And I want to tell my esteemed colleagues, I love hearing your stories. It's fantastic. It's, it's a beautiful thing. My story is slightly different. In the fact that I was a rock and roll musician all my life, I grew up in a broken home. I feared God, but I feared God because I assumed he was a punitive God that was going to, you know, send me to hell, no matter what. I was 40 years old, approximately when my father died. And it wasn't until I was 40 that I started questioning, I had become everything my father wanted me to be, I was a rough, tough mean, cus that, you know, was able to do what I needed to do, no matter what. But when my father was dying, I started questioning Well, if my father, who is a non believer, I know where God's gonna put him and I and I did everything in my life to please my dad. So then I started asking these questions about, well, where am I going to spend eternity, and it was God's way of throwing me from a horse, so to speak. And making me very aware of that there was something more in life than just, you know, living for the, for the moment. Over time, I started playing in a lot of large churches, I was usually hired to play congregations of, you know, 1500 2000 5000, or whatever. And I would go, thinking I was going to church because I was hanging out on the band. And then when the preacher started talking, I would hang out in the greenroom where the doughnuts were. And what I what I've discovered is that, that God had a plan for me, and I wasn't sure at the time, but he brought two people into my life. The first was my wife, who made me promise to be a man that would go to church with her, which I had no idea what that involved at first. And then secondly, we moved. When we first got married, we moved across the street from this really rinky dinky little United Methodist Church. And I remember going into the first time and hearing the music, and I was like, oh, no, this is way too Catholic. I'm out of here. It was it was you know, and but those two people that God placed in my life, showed me what unconditional love looks like. And I started realizing, when I started asking questions, Pastor Sally, well, first off sending a woman into my life that was going to show me what God was about. That was a brilliant God move, because I could have fought off a dude. But But I was completely taken unaware. Over the course of the year, I read everything in her library, and I got really fascinated with John Wesley, and this whole concept of grace, and the theology of grace and salvation by faith alone. And, and, and, you know, that's what actually brought me to the United Methodist Church. Because I know that in my whole life, I was so worried about you know, my eternity being, you know, spent in hell. When somebody told me that God loved me, regardless of my brokenness, regardless of my idiot things that I did in the past it it inspired me so much. And that's when God placed my this call on my life to reach other people that otherwise have been either blasted by the church or simply just they have you know, they Googled themselves out of a belief because, you know, there's so much other information out there this garbage and so my call has always been, I want to share with them the same love that God shared with me through these these two people, so that they understand that they're never too far gone. They're never too far away for God for God and and so that's been the that's been the crux of my my call. You know, one of the one of the things that I will say that living a life the way I did discernment is something that's pretty important for survival. And I love the way God has taken all that information, all that experience and has turned it into something good. It's been a blessing. And so I joined the ranks with Hannah and Keith, this summer and I will tell you, Oh, what a journey that was and and it's I can't wait to see what the future holds.

Brad Miller:

Well, we look forward to hearing more about that and visual to share with you briefly about my experience by becoming an elder. I want to hear your experience and how that relates to our new elders here. Some of the YouTube watching a YouTube will see behind me I have two or three things reported me one is my Indiana Jones poster. And I got some of my clerical robes. I also got my elders orders and some other things on the wall. Because when I was ordained elder in 1985, at Bishop Leroy Hodapp, that was a high moment in my life. And I certainly hold it dear. So Bishop, tell us a bit about the meaningfulness of becoming an elder for you as it relates to these new elders out of your personal experience and about what it means to become an elder.

Bishop Julius Trimble:

Thank you, Brian. We were actually ordained in the same year, I was ordained an elder in 1985, by Bishop, just to wit, in the northern Illinois conference at the time, time was in the Chicago

Brad Miller:

and it was had to be about the same time because we went to school together and everything I knew had to be in that same time frame. So

Bishop Julius Trimble:

that's right. Yeah. Yeah. So So I do remember just feeling like wow, you know, churches actually gonna call me Pastor. And, and, and I felt a call him when I was 16. But it took me a while to really answer that calling fully. And I attribute that a lot to the to my wife, I met in college. And after we got married in 1979, I was working as a community organizer, I worked for insurance company and doing other things. She she was the one who said, You're not going to be happy until you go have a conversation with your pastor, and it really, really be obedient to the Lord. And so I, I do remember to the ordination, actually, the ordination experience, having hands laid out my head and others who were surrounding supporting my pastor and others who had their hands on my shoulders, and I felt that I felt a little presence of God and that it was a holy moment. And as a bishop, I feel the same. It's it's, it's, it's a holy holy moment to be able to lay hands upon those who will be carrying on the the work of ministry, call it a privilege of ministry. And we don't do it by ourselves, you know, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, so, so I counted all joy that, that Hannah and Dawn and Keith are with us today. And I say they are you know, what certain shirt, certainly there are challenges before us as a church. But I remain unapologetically Christian, unashamedly united, Methodist. And I think that, that we serve a big God, and sometimes we ought to really stop. You've heard me say this before, stop telling, telling God how big our problems are, and start telling our problems, how big our God is. So I'm a firm believer that that encouragement works. I'm also a firm believer that that, the more you recognize it, you don't have to do it all yourself, and the God has already forgiven us for our previous failures. So I'm sure God was, is anticipating we were going to do some more discernment failing, even even in the ministry. In terms of some of our leadership, I think back on some of the dumb things that I did. These pastors haven't done things. But one example, one example I remember in my first church, a brand, I got up in the pulpit and told the people that this is a search where he had a lot of my members that had at apple trees inside a gallop, and a Cooper said, we've got enough output, so we don't need any more apples. And my wife is like, why did you say that? And, and I offended probably, you know, three or four people getting up, getting up for telling them you know, we've done enough hours. And so sometimes you do, you know, that's it. That seems like we laugh about that now. But, but in some

Brad Miller:

shared a bit about you express when you were ordained? I think it might be interesting to hear all say from my perspective, as an elder who's not a bishop, that also you're hearing from Don and Hannah and Keith, what was it like for you to be in the position of Laindon hands on Don and handed Keith and others as you've done in your 10 years or so as a bishop? Tell us about that side of the experience for you when the actual ceremony takes place?

Bishop Julius Trimble:

Well, well, I think yeah, it's to me it's a it's a high moment of annual conference. You know, a lot of monks other high moments, but I think probably the highest moment from the venue conferences. We've they've heard the question to historic questions before. They've already passed the board of ordained ministry, that clergy session has already voted upon them. But this what makes it part part of these because, you know, there's almost always some family member there. If they're married to spouses, they're sometimes upset. as to who's been mentoring them, or someone they've looked up to, you know, now they're colleagues with that. So I find it to be a high holy moment. And then they get the letter of succession. So, like I made reference the bishop just to wit, and they have a letter of succession that goes all the way back to John Wesley. So I think, for me, it's a it's a high moment, I get sometimes caught up, you know, thank God, they have those cards in front of them. Because it keeps me from getting too emotional. So I can get so I can get through it. But I literally are literally feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. When this happens. And I pray, I pray for them that it's, it's a special time I get to look at, I also get to look at the family members of persons who there they are kneeling, they can't see that. And just to see the pride and the love. And you realized that this journey didn't just happen by yourself. People were praying for you. And it's not not uncommon for me to look at someone standing behind them is just weeping with a high moment

Brad Miller:

for sure. Hannah, tell us about that experience for you. I'm thinking not only in terms of the actual moment of the laying on hands, but you know, you go before the Board of ordained ministry, you have their historical questions, read, people like me have to vote on you. You know, I voted for all three of you just so just to be on the record there. There you go. And, and then and then the moment when you when you kneel, tell us what that experience was for you.

Hannah Wiswasser:

Going before the Board of ordained ministry was nerve wracking. I think I can safely speak for all three of us and say that was one of the most stressful things of our lives, or two days. But the ceremony itself, it's amazing. I don't know if I can fully articulate everything that you feel in that moment. For me, it was a culmination of 13 years of work. From when I felt the call, college seminary, the three years of provisional membership, countless hours of reading and papers, Study and Learning the practical bits that they don't teach you in seminary. But to have Bishop Trimble lay hands on me to have the original female pastor that I had the conversation with fair to lay hands on me, I to have a former Assistant District Superintendent, who I got to work with, have his hands on me to know that I had family in the congregation that a number of my parishioners made the trip up from Plainfield to know that the retired pastor who comes to the service that I run, he was there to know that that he was standing in the audience. It's overwhelming. And it's overwhelming in a best way.

Brad Miller:

That's awesome. That's awesome. Thank you for sharing that. And in terms of we're going to talk here in a minute about how this high moment will lead us into the next moments. But Keith, you came to this process through other denominations and through other ordination processes. Tell us a little bit about the experience was for you to come to this combination. Was that a good experience for you?

Keith Turner:

It absolutely was because going through the United Methodist process, you know, from going before DICOM, back in 2017 2018, to the board of ordained ministry, I was really allowed to be myself and to give expression to who God has called me to be in the ministry God has called me to. Whereas in other processes, processes, I felt like I was a minion that had to jump through hoops and make a whole lot of people happy and keep people happy in order to be ordained. So I felt the United Methodist system, the process to be simultaneously Yes, steps and hoops and things like that. But I also found it to be very liberating. So I'm grateful for that. When I was ordained after the service, Serena came up to me and said, Hey, can you do a quick interview for the video wrap up and in that video, I said it was 15 years of preparation for 15 seconds of kneeling. And but it was it was truly a powerful holy moment. And one thing that made it all the more special was one of the clergy laying hands on my shoulders. While the bishop was praying over me, they pinched me. Not hard, it was a painful, but it was a it was a gentle pinch. And I walked away from that was and thinking, that was a multi layered spiritual moment that in the midst of all of those sacred Holy moments, there will be something that jars you there will be something that gives you a jolt. And be sensitive to that. Because that may be where God is moving to. And so it was a very special moment for me. And to see the culmination of so many years of work, and also to be surrounded by those who love and support me in the ministry. God has called me

Brad Miller:

to awesome. I'll have a moment, a special moment and you got the pitch. That's awesome. That's awesome. Don, Don, Don, this talk about your experience. You came from a what I just said, Danza, laddie. And then Don, you came out of experience where you were, as a second career and you know, just later in life, you came to do this process. Tell us what about the experience was for you? And the, you know, the go through the whole process the questions, and then the word, the elders coordination is that that time,

Don Zlaty:

right, so the first thing I tell people, and it's kind of apologetically, but I'm an Enneagram, eight, so I'm highly driven. I'm a fighter by nature, I tend to when somebody comes in authority before me, I tend to say, well, you're gonna have, you're gonna have your work cut out for you. Because before I'll follow you, you have to show me something. This whole process, you know, from the very beginning, I was doing something that was so contrary to what my family knew what my father would have ever expected. I often said, If my dad realized I had become a pastor, he'd roll over in his grave. Right? And, and I'm thinking, I nowadays, I'm thinking he would go, thank you, son for being smarter than me. So this whole process has been understanding this very simple principle. You can't take authority unless you understand how to submit to it. And what I mean by that, is that, that, yes, I, I will say that I am driven. And that is true. But there was a point in the REM process, where I recognize that I was fighting a fight that wasn't really my fight to fight it was it was, I was fighting a fight just because there was something in front of me. And I was arguing with myself. When and Hannah was in my group, there was a moment where I, I realized that what was being asked of me, was to trust the process, to, to submit myself to the authority of the Board of ordained ministry, which, and to trust that God has got this throughout this whole thing. And when that happened, there was this immense peace that came over me and for the last year, I would say, it was like this transformational thing that was happening. So when, when Bishop laid his hands upon me, and the mentor that I had for the last 10 plus years, was on the other side, I understood what it meant to take authority by giving up authority, and and to me that was, it was a you know, Hannah said, you know, or maybe it was Keith, the 15 seconds. It felt like a lifetime, for that brief moment, everything came together. It's like everything that God had been walking me through and walking us through in that one moment. You knew that God had called you and now you knew that you you had a responsibility. And that responsibility was to understand what grace looks like and all this and that, that for me that that moment was kind of like an aha. It wasn't that I had arrived. It was that I understood. I understood what the responsibility it was being placed upon my head, and my heart and my shoulders and and that was huge. And so I that moment, touched me more than a lot of things in a long time. And so I'm on a weeper. And it took everything that I had not to go off the you know, camera, crying like a big baby so

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