Amy McClure found her call in life through the nurturing of her home church and other Christians God put in her path. Even as a child, McClure wanted to “connect to what was happening up front,” even though she began by sitting in the back rows of the church.
“Perhaps those were the moments God was igniting the fire and passion in me to connect with the congregation on a worshiping level,” she says.
Those worship services at her home church, Hazelwood Baptist Church, Waynesville, N.C., and the people there touched her life in many ways. “The church served as a springboard for the many ways God would choose to work in and through my life,” says McClure, who graduates this month from the Campbell University Divinity School. Since those days, and particularly during her years at Campbell, worship has become even more important to her.
She remembers a missions-minded woman from the church who visited her shortly after she was baptized. This woman brought her a Bible and prayed with her whole family with a “quiet passion.” McClure reflects on that visit and says, “Perhaps this was God showing me how I would one day be a minister in the living rooms of people in my community.”
A friend’s mother in the church saw McClure’s leadership potential and “recruited” her to be a helper in the children’s choir and to organize her peers for a special children’s program in the church. Another woman in the church “ignited a spark in me to grab hold of the Bible and learn to love it.” She said this woman gave her confidence to ask questions about the Bible when she created a “serious Bible study” for those who wanted to engage scripture in a more meaningful way.
McClure says that the nurturing that her own family and the church gave her prepared her for the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the opportunities she would have to serve through Baptist Student Union (BSU) there. In addition, she participated in a mission trip to Jamaica, served as a summer missionary in New York City, and served for one year in war-torn Liberia. These experiences likewise nurtured her sense of who she is and her understanding of God’s call on her life. In Liberia, she knew pastors who walked six hours one way to attend a Bible training class.
“My passion to learn scripture was there, but the fire inside me started to grow as I watched these people sacrifice everything to understand the gospel even more,” she explains. She came home and became youth pastor at her home church.
During her tenure as BSU president and during her time as youth minister, changes in leadership caused her to take on more responsibility than would be normal for a college student. At Hazelwood, she helped with worship planning and leading, hospital visitation and administrative duties. “While there were times that proved difficult, I knew that was what God was calling me to do with the rest of my life.”
Thus, in the fall of 2010, she enrolled in Campbell University Divinity School. She recalls walking into her first class at Campbell Divinity. “I was excited, nervous, guarded, and probably looked like a deer-in-the-headlights.” Now that she is finishing this part of her theological education, she says that the students in that class had no idea that “most of us would be radically changed in our beliefs and passions, and ultimately learn more about ourselves than we anticipated.
“The Bible came alive in a way I had never experienced,” she adds, reflecting on her experience in Old and New Testament classes. “With each step, I learned something new about myself and others, while gaining a broader perspective of the Christian tradition and the character of God and His love for me.”
In her Christian Education classes, she learned how “to use a new lens to see our local church settings, how to understand the culture, and how to interact in a positive and effective way with people from all walks of life.” In Christian Worship and her chapel planning class, she found that she is “passionate about the elements of worship and the purpose of worship.”
An overwhelming lesson that she first heard overseas and then heard repeated time and time again at Campbell Divinity was “to take time.” As she begins a new chapter in her life, she says that she will continue to take time “to practice spiritual disciplines, take time to be present with the people in front of me, take time to invest in studying the scriptures, take time to slow down and recognize the needs around me, take time to pause and give thanks, and take time to recognize the presence of God all around me.” — Irma Duke, Campbell Divinity School