Meet Annie MacNeal
Home Church & Denomination: Epworth United Methodist Church
Degrees: B.A. in Psychology, minor in Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts
Garrett-Evangelical Degree Program/Year: M.Div., first year
While attending UMass Amherst (University of Massachusetts), I became involved in social justice and community service learning. I volunteered a lot of my time at a local multicultural, anti-bias, afterschool program, Capacidad, which focused on social justice issues. I have always loved working with children, having been a camp counselor for years at a variety of camps. Upon graduating from UMass, I worked as a substitute teacher at an inner-city elementary school and directed a summer camp for cub scouts this past summer.
One of the reasons I graduated early was so that I could participate as a delegate from New England to the General Conference of the UMC. I was elected as a first-alternate lay delegate, but was able to be a seated delegate on the General Administration legislative committee. One of the main focuses of this committee was to restructure the UMC. Although General Conference was stressful and disheartening at times, I learned a lot and was even more confident in my call to ordained ministry and social justice in the UMC.
I grew up going to a United Methodist Church with my family. My mom was the head of Sunday School and my dad was the Lay Leader. I went to church because that was what you were supposed to do; I didn’t know anything else. One summer, when I was 14 years old, I went on a camping trip with my family. During this trip, I discovered what it meant that Jesus truly loved me and I wanted to accept that love and forgiveness. As I prayed, a warmness and peace came over me and I knew that there was nothing else I was meant to do in life besides make others feel that same peace and love; God was calling me to be a pastor. After becoming involved in community service and learning about social justice issues in college, I felt the call even more. I knew I wanted to work toward social justice through my ministry and build bridges between the community and the church. I wondered about becoming a Deacon instead of an Elder, but the feeling I would get when I preached, made me sure of my call to ordained ministry on the elder track.
Attraction to Garrett-Evangelical:
One of the main reasons I chose Garrett-Evangelical was because of its sense of community. The first time I visited¸ I was immediately welcomed and felt right at home. Another reason I chose Garrett-Evangelical was because of its strong commitment to social justice. There are so many ways to get involved and serve others in a variety of ministries. Finally, I appreciated that the education at Garrett-Evangelical was well-rounded. Not only do we learn academically and in the classroom, but there is also an aspect of practical, hands-on learning that is important for ministry. For example, there are two years of required field education.
I am currently on my way to becoming a certified candidate in the UMC for ordained ministry on the elder track. Upon graduating from Garrett-Evangelical, I hope to be commissioned to the local church and to be ordained. At this point, I wish to return to my home conference of New England, but I am open to wherever God calls me to go. Ideally, I would love to work with a diverse population of people, break the barriers of the church “walls,” and truly reach out to and serve the surrounding community.