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Kimberly Koczan-Flory

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Kimberly Koczan-Flory

KimberlyNot long ago, I was uncertain if I would be a Bethany student. My calling to ministry holds a strong commitment to the church, but has always extended beyond church doors. I am passionate about the ways God is moving within congregations, but committed also to those who seek God outside of the institutional structures. One of the primary places. I feel most fully engaged in life-giving ministry is as a spiritual director. Several years ago I completed a certification program in spiritual direction and feel deeply honored to listen with individuals, groups, and organizations about how ordinary life meets with our extraordinary God.

In my discernment in becoming an ordained clergy and following my call to spiritual direction, I wondered if there would be room for my ‘outside the congregational setting' box for me at Bethany. The answer has been an energetic ‘Yes!' Bethany has welcomed me to explore more deeply a new way of being church by practicing spiritual direction ministry for my Ministry Formation experience (a practical experience coupled with classroom and spiritual components).

These experiences are leading to real, lasting connections in my community. Not only have I led spiritual direction groups, preached at four local churches, and led workshops for various church groups, but I have also practiced ministry in less ‘churchly' ways. In December I led a holiday workshop on "Living your Values" at a natural grocery store, and this week I spoke on National Public Radio regarding mission, vision and ethos statements in the hopes that listeners could continue to rethink life-giving ways to ‘do business.'

Perhaps this work without speaking Bible verses might be more like curiosity-building, but I trust that God will use my humble efforts to draw people into the fullness of life in the Spirit -- even in the grocery, café, or behind a radio mic. And I am exceedingly grateful for the loving encouragement I receive from Bethany's faculty, staff, and students to come as I am and leave more than I was. I hope to be a witness to God within and beyond the conventional ways of being church, and am thankful for the ways Bethany has opened these ways of Goodness and goodness to me.

Jody Gunn
(MDiv Connections)

JodyIn the summer of 2006, I made a pact with a high school friend to make our fortieth decade significant. My goal was to complete my Master of Divinity degree before I turned fifty years old. Inside I asked myself and God, "How is this was going to be possible?" Eventually, I was willing to be open to it. My life seemed crazy enough without adding seminary to the mix. I am married to Eric and have two children 15 and 10, so I run a household. I serve a church half time and find many opportunities to volunteer in our community. In spite of the busyness of my life I said "Yes!" to Bethany because I really was at a point in my life where it made sense.