As Katie Hughes made her way to her car at the end of another long school day, she reflected on her day in the classroom. After years of studying to become a teacher like her mom and other family members, she felt disappointed and exhausted in her student-teaching experience. The more time she spent in the classroom, the more she questioned her decision to become an educator. Was this really what God had planned for her?
A New Plan
Katie talked with her parents and began to take an inventory of the gifts and interests God had given her. She knew she liked working with young people. Maybe she should pursue youth ministry. Was she ready for such a ministry, since she had not studied in that field? Did she need more schooling? She had more questions than answers.
Internet research led her to the residency program at Discovery Christian Church in Broomfield, Colorado. She applied for the program and began the interview process.
“When the residency coordinator told me about Compassion Ministry, which is our church’s local ministry in support of the city of Broomfield, I felt strongly that this was what I wanted and what God had for me,” Katie says. “I asked more questions, interviewed some more, and they hired me!”
Katie grew up in a close Midwestern family, so moving to Colorado was a change, but she loves her new location. She has always prioritized relationships and loves spending time with friends. In fact, her favorite things about college were the relationships she cultivated there. This ability to make friends has come in handy during her residency at Discovery, where she combines her administrative talent with her love for people.
She now works as the Compassion Ministry resident. In this role, her work includes supporting local partnerships, overseeing the pastoral care team, a meal ministry, engaging in the city, and overseeing the church’s Benevolence Ministry and team.
“We go to a lot of meetings with people working at other churches or organizations in the city,” Katie says. “We have an amazing network of people who want to help our vulnerable neighbors, including many from our church.”
Katie’s role is to coordinate some of that connection and teach classes at the church. She also works to learn all the aspects of her supervisor’s role, hoping someday to follow her example at another church.
Past Ministry Paved the Way
This is not Katie’s first ministry experience. Before her senior year of college, she spent the summer working with an organization called City Service Mission in Washington, D.C. There she hosted youth group teams, leading them to locations around the district to help them learn about and serve the people living there.
“That summer, I began to see how God loves cities, what Shalom means, and what being a minister of reconciliation looks like,” she says. “It was life-changing!”
Now Katie sees how God used that experience to prepare her for her current residency and future work. She enjoys learning about people from different backgrounds and ways of life different from her own. She also likes learning about racial justice.
Katie’s current project involves coordinating the church’s annual resident mission trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma. The residents from Discovery Christian Church will work with Praying Pelican Missions; they will partner with a local church to serve that church’s community. At the start of the trip, they will spend three days learning about the Tulsa area. Katie plans to lead the group to museums and historical sites and participate in spiritual practices to grow closer to God. They will learn specifically about the Trail of Tears and how forced displacement in the 1800s shaped Native American nations today. They will also study the Tulsa Race Massacre to learn about the African-American experience in Tulsa.
“The hope for this trip is to practice learning history and how to participate in these spiritual practices, so we can also look closely at where these injustices have shown up in our hometown,” Katie explains. “We are hopefully cultivating a spirit of curiosity and a willingness to [deal with] the hard stuff, even when it is easy to ignore, and to bring it to God.”
A Future of Service
Katie has enjoyed her residency experience thus far and still has plenty to look forward to. She works with a retired professor who has served the local homeless population for decades. In coordination with him and her supervisor at the church, Katie planned two classes on homelessness for church members and other community members.
“So many people showed up ready to learn!” she says.
She also co-led a book club about anti-racism. The members had rich and honest conversations about their lack of understanding about racial justice.
“I’m grateful I’ve been given opportunities to lead and join others in learning through my church,” Katie says. God is weaving Katie’s background in education, her natural curiosity, and her passion to serve in new and exciting ways.
The professor she and her church work with told her that his work with homeless people has felt like he’s been pushing a giant boulder uphill for years.
“He said his arms have only gotten stronger as he’s rolled it up for so long,” she says. After some introspection, she adds, “I remember feeling so scared that I would either get too tired pushing the boulder uphill or that I would get distracted and leave it to roll down. I want to be faithful to where God has called me, but being faithful is slow, hard work.”
Katie is committed to continuing the work God has given her and remaining faithful to her calling even after her residency ends. She is excited for what the future holds and the ministry God has planned for her.