In a vision I saw a soft, gentle rain falling on those who are at rest, completely surrendered to the LORD. The rain was filling cisterns that had become empty and dry. There was a sense of refreshment on every level–a healing of body and soul, memories and emotions; rejuvenation of the spirit. It was beautiful, sweet, pure life. I sensed a time of restoration and renewal by this rain of the Spirit coming to God’s people – Marsha Burns
I am a Jesus – follower. Plain and simple. But it’s not that plain and simple in today’s world.
My spiritual autobiography is a diverse one. I was baptized into the Church at the age of 13, as part of my grandparents’ life of faith at a Southern Baptist church in Frankfort, KY. My giftedness in vocal music was affirmed early in my Christian walk but I, as a young teenager, felt called to proclamation in word, as well as in music. Because of denominational beliefs, that call was not affirmed because of my gender. That lack of affirmation caused great personal and spiritual turmoil that I spent the next three decades working out.
I graduated from Centre College of Kentucky and applied to Duke Divinity School with the view of preaching and pastoring after a summer spent at St. John’s College, Oxford and worshiping at Christchurch Cathedral there. I did not attend Duke because my life dynamic was very unsupportive of such a move. Confused and wounded, I married in 1987, deciding that the best God had for me was being a wife and mother in the very conservative non-instrumental church of Christ. After ten years in that unproductive atmosphere, I found myself a single parent of two beautiful children and back in my home church with my grandparents.
But the Hound of Heaven was still lovingly pursuing me. I went to work for Kentucky Educational Television and won an Emmy Award in 2000 for work I did highlighting a family following God’s social justice call in Danville, KY. I then went to work for the Kentucky Department of Travel Development and the Kentucky Historical Society in management positions in marketing and public relations.
I remarried in 2004 to a Christian man who affirmed my call to seminary and to ministry in whatever form God had for us as a family. It was at that time that I began to really understand the nature of God expressed in the Trinity. I continued to affirm my faith in the words of the Nicene or Apostle’s Creed as I had learned to do at Christchurch, Oxford.
Those liturgical words, I realized, were the way that Christianity gets lived out. I began, and continue, to practice Morning Prayer in the Anglican tradition and believe that those time-tested ways of worshiping God still have power and validity in our time. Today, I untie with the communion of saints through the online ministry of #FreshPrayer.
In order to make room for God to use my life, I began attending Asbury Theological Seminary in the fall of 2003 in the Counseling program in order to participate in God’s redemption of my life experience. It wasn’t long, through the Biblical Studies class work, I began to hear again the call to preach and to pastor.
I accepted my first appointment as pastor for the Pleasant View United Methodist Church in central rural Kentucky in June 2007. In 2015, I stepped away from the local church, burned out, literally sick and tired in Body, soul and spirit. I continue now to seek God’s renewal and restoration in my life.
My view of ministry, especially pastoral ministry, is that through living with God, redeemed by His Son, living in His Word, empowered by His Spirit and in life-journeying with His people, we join God where he is at work in the world both within our parishes and outside in our community and wider world. I have a great commitment to the traditions of the church. I believe in the efficacy of liturgical worship and the importance of the sacraments. I am committed in my pastoral ministry to the weekly celebration of Holy Communion as a means of grace.
I believe we stand at a seam in history, a growing edge where things as we know them are about to change. We are still living unconsciously with the demands of our pioneer heritage in a world that has long outstripped the American South. The institutional church as we know it must change or continue to die. There is resurrection life for our communities of faith but they must be willing to be the change and live in the 3 Streams of God’s life in the world: Scripture, the Sacred and with God’s Holy Spirit.
We must follow where God is leading….we may be the vanguard for the generations to come who need to inherit what is best about the shaping of discipleship in the ages to come.