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Underlying Current - A Reflection from Evan Stanfill

Recently, I had someone ask me about my call to ministry. I was getting ready to answer by recounting the story that I have told countless times since accepting that call when she stopped me and clarified, “Talk to me about your underlying current…How, no matter what your vocation is, do you understand your call from God to be and act in the world?” This took me a minute to process. It was almost immediately apparent that this is what someone might be asking when they ask about a call to ministry, but it is so often tangled up with the question “Why do you want to do ministry?” I had to pause and tease out how to answer that question. 

After gathering my thoughts, I answered by saying, “No matter what my context, I understand God’s love in a way that meets people wherever they might be, joyously celebrates the uniqueness of every single person, and works to lift up those who are marginalized.”

After this conversation, I landed a new appreciation for my call and realized how much I have been living into that call even during a season when most of my work hasn’t been labeled “ministry.” My understanding of my call has always been wrapped up in love, care, and being met wherever I was, but I had not backtracked how driven by that call I had been even before I recognized it. I came to understand the breadth of God’s love through so many people who loved me and told me things like, “I am proud of who you are.” These people claimed the title Christian, but more importantly, embodied their faith in the way that they treated and cared for people. 

All those experiences propelled me to provide that kind of love and care to others well before I ever understood my call to ministry. I was staffing summer camps, volunteering with youth groups, advocating for LGBTQ+ inclusion while I still considered myself just an ally, even doing an NBA XPLOR service corps year. Doing ministry before I could articulate a call but being moved by that call nonetheless. 

In a time when Christian Nationalism and churches that teach hate seem to be at an all-time high, I hope to be part of the Body of Christ that is moving the Church back to this vision of inclusion and reconciliation that is hard to come by these days. I am hopeful that the Church still has life left in it to be the place where the downtrodden and displaced can still find love and care. I know that God’s love still flows through people of faith. I see it every day. I pray often that the institutions of faith still have that ability to let all that love shine through so that people, especially those who the Church has harmed and dismissed, can feel that same embrace that I have felt. 

One of the places I have been able to do some of this work is as an AllianceQ council member.  AllianceQ is the LGBTQ+ affirming ministry of the Disciples of Christ and has been supporting and advocating for our community within the Disciples movement since 1979. As a council member, I have the privilege of being involved with the work that AllianceQ is currently doing in the denomination. Much of the work of AllianceQ has been walking with congregations and ministry partners to become Open + Affirming. This ministry is still core to what we do, and we know as a council that the work does not stop once that designation is reached. There are always ways for us to call all our siblings into doing the redemptive work of inclusion. This sometimes looks like our “Becoming an Inclusive Church” (BIC) training, and other times advocating strongly for the Church at all levels to engage faithfully with resolutions like GA-1929: An Invitation to Education for Welcoming and Receiving the Gift of Transgender and Gender-Diverse People. 

This Pride Month, I encourage us to reflect on what call God has on your life. What is that underlying current that propels you forward toward a better tomorrow? If you heard God say, “I am proud of who you are” what would you have the courage and freedom to do?


Evan Stanfill (he/him) is a DSF/San Francisco Theological Seminary graduate (M.Div./2019). He has been a member of the Disciples AllianceQ council since 2022. He has recently found joy working in youth ministry, chaplaincy, and nonprofit work. Evan is currently teaching STEM afterschool classes with the LEGO robotics systems and hoping to move back into a ministry role soon. 


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