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A Ministry Journey - A Reflection from Rev. Dr. LaTaunya M. Bynum


When I graduated from what was then the Southern California School of Theology at Claremont (STC), I entered a period of uncertainty. I was equipped with a fine theological education, I was eager to begin practicing all I had learned, and I did not have a call. In fact, I would not receive a settled call until I had been out of seminary for two years.


In the meantime, I worked secular temp jobs, served as the Interim Pastor at First Christian Church in Lynwood, and attended assemblies and conferences. I had supportive friends and colleagues throughout that wilderness period. At the urging of a friend, I applied for and was accepted into a Clinical Pastoral Education program at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, a sprawling federal mental health facility in Washington DC. I loved every minute of the experience, even the hard moments, and I have lived the slogan of CPE: “Every experience is a learning experience” since those days, often praying in stressful and successful moments, “Lord, what am supposed to learn from this?” 


I left the year-long program a few months early to accept the call to be the Director of Women in Ministry for the Division of Homeland Ministries – now Disciples Home Missions. Twelve years later, I served as the Interim at Bethany Christian Church in Lincoln, NE, and then as the Pastor of Broad Street Christian Church in Columbus, OH. From Broad Street, I served as the Regional Associate Pastor for the Christian Church in Ohio, and now I serve as the Regional Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Northern California-Nevada.


As the Regional Minister, I build relationships with our pastors and congregations, stay in contact with our ministers in congregations, chaplaincy, and other non-parish-based ministries, work with congregations seeking pastors, consult and help to resolve conflict in congregations, preach, and teach as requested. Part of my responsibility is to serve as a pastor to pastors as they work with the people they are called to serve. I also work with a staff dedicated to specific ministries in the region, and I serve on several boards and committees. I will soon conclude several years of membership as a DSF board member.


Much of my role as a Regional Minister is to be a bridge between ministries in congregations and chaplaincies, and other ministries and the General Church’s ministries, including the need to support every part of the church financially.  


One of the joys of this ministry is the privilege I have of being in congregations and talking to church members who are eager to serve their churches and communities. Most of our congregations are small membership congregations, yet many of them are doing big ministry as they house and sponsor food banks, space for recovery groups, other community connections, and as they gather for worship each Sunday and meet throughout the week. 


Yet we are challenged as we recover from the pandemic; many members have chosen not to return to in-person worship, and they might not ever return. We struggle with having the financial resources to do all that we feel called to do.


The church and its ministries are by necessity changing to meet a world that is more secular, living in post-pandemic times. It is also trying to imagine church in a way that is inclusive of all and counter to the growing challenge of white Christian nationalism. My hope is that with divine inspiration, imagination, and innovation, we can help the church change in ways that will be life-giving and inclusive as we share the good news of God’s love for the world and all that is within it.


 

Rev. Dr. LaTaunya M. Bynum has been the Regional Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Northern California-Nevada since September 2014. LaTaunya has served on several boards and committees through the years including the General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Pension Fund Board, the Council on Christian Unity and Interfaith Ministry, the Council on Theological Education, the boards of Chapman University and Disciples Seminary Foundation, and from 2019-2022, served as the President of the College of Regional Ministers.

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