John Helmiere ’10 M.Div.
B.A. Dartmouth College 2005
I left a deeply meaningful vocation in order to come to YDS. I had been working as the director of “Voice of Hope Ministries,” a social service and justice enterprise based out of Community of Faith UMC, a vibrant congregation in central Florida. This position allowed me to combine my passion for helping people develop meaningful spiritualities with my desire to mobilize Christian communities to engage in concrete practices of loving and liberating. Despite the fact that I was enjoying this work greatly, I felt a call to ordained ministry that would allow me to be in leadership of more than just one ministry within a congregation.
YDS has a great deal to offer those of us who are ready to devote our lives to serving the local church. Some of these opportunities take the form of academic courses, from excellent instruction in pastoral care to more experimental courses like “Neighborhood Ethics,” a small seminar that convened in various community institutions around New Haven to discuss theologically and socially responsible engagement with local issues of poverty and marginalization. Some opportunities to develop ministerial competence take the form of worship and spiritual life programs, from the brilliantly executed and diverse chapel services that deepened my understanding of theologically rich worship to the spiritual formation small groups offered by the Annand Program that taught me a wide variety of contemplative practices. YDS even offered me on-the-ground training through my internships as a pastoral associate at a local United Methodist Church and later as a faith-based fundraiser for a Christian non-profit serving homeless families.
Now, with the knowledge and experience I have gained at YDS, I am sure I’d be much better equipped to direct “Voice of Hope Ministries” back in central Florida. Yet, a new vocation has emerged, and I’m heading out to Seattle to embark on the great adventure known as church planting. The United Methodist Church is trusting in my calling and my theological training to send me into one of the most racially and economically diverse neighborhoods in the country with the charge of building a community to carry on Jesus’ work of proclaiming an inclusive yet challenging gospel, and enacting a liberating yet demanding way of life. Without the experiences of the past three years, there’s no way I’d feel equipped to enter this new chapter of life.