I had really great times when I attended both Atlanta 2003 and Charlotte 2005 while I was in high school. During San Jose 2007, I attended as a youth group sponsor which gave me a new view of what it means to be part of a Mennonite convention. But, it’s my experience at Columbus 2009 that I have to thank for shaping me and ultimately landing me in a ministry position that I felt called to.
I had been involved in the Ministry Inquiry Program at Goshen College – where I graduated from in May 2009 – and through that and other experiences I was convinced I was being called to some sort of church leadership. I agreed to attend Columbus as an adult delegate, and in October, I planned to get married and move to Lancaster. I had been job searching for a while with little success. I actually had a phone interview while I was in Columbus that fell through because they needed someone to start the following Monday (which was impossible for me to do).
My parents were at the convention and one night we were all on our way to dinner and happened to run into their friend, Stan Shantz, who is lead pastor at James Street Mennonite in Lancaster. They introduced me and we got to talking about my job search. Stan looked at me with surprise and said that he was rooming with another lead pastor from Lancaster, Brian Miller, who was looking for a youth pastor. The next day I met with him, interviewed for the position several weeks later, and two weeks before our wedding, I was voted in as youth pastor at Sunnyside Mennonite Church.
I definitely feel blessed when I think back over this story. The fact that my family and I “randomly” crossed paths with Stan Shantz reiterates God’s hand in the whole situation for me. Everything fell into place at convention. I’m hoping that when I take our youth group to Pittsburgh 2011, it will help them take new steps of faith, just as past conventions helped me.
Nathan Grieser— Lancaster, PA