My name is Kara Wilson. I was born on March 14, 1995 to Lyle Jeffrey “Jeff” Wilson and Jean Allison Yankee Wilson. (Yes, the name “Yankee” is literally a part of my heritage! How about that?) My parents, Jeff and Jean, just celebrated their 34th wedding anniversary on May 25th. I have two older brothers, Shane (27) and Trevor (26), and one younger sister, Jackie (17). I grew up in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. When I was in 3rd grade, me and my siblings began attending Sunday school at Woods Chapel United Methodist Church.
   I became really invested when I began playing keyboard in the praise band for Youth Group. The experiences and relationships I had in Youth Group helped me to understand that God loves me and cares for me very deeply, and that God loves everyone else in the same way. I was involved in many after-school activities, which gave me valuable experiences in musical performance, public speaking, teaching and tutoring, volunteering and non-profit work, and leadership. It didn’t occur to me then that God was using my experiences to prepare me to be a pastor. I went to Blue Springs South High School, where I graduated in 2013 in the top 5% of my class. Later that year, I moved to Nashville, Tennessee to attend Vanderbilt University.
   I chose to double-major in English - Literary Studies and Communication Studies. While there was a Religious Studies program at Vanderbilt, I was most passionate about English literature and learning about rhetoric - how to create a message to effectively communicate with people. Until the end of my junior year, I thought I was going to be an English teacher or professor, or maybe a writer. At the same time, I was working through what my life’s purpose was, I dabbled in different churches and campus ministries around Vanderbilt University’s campus. In my first year at college, I was a part of The Navigators, an evangelical ministry that seeks to spread the gospel everywhere. I also began worshipping at Ethos Church, a non-denominational evangelical church in some capacity all four years of my college career.
   On summer breaks from school, I would also return to work in the office at Woods Chapel Church, which I considered my home church. I learned how to work on a church staff, and I also went on mission trips with the Jr. High Youth Group to Omaha, Nebraska and St. Louis, Missouri. Seeing children learn about Jesus through serving others inspired me a lot. By the summer after my junior year at Vanderbilt, however, I realized that I was no longer passionate about literature, whether that was studying it, creating it, or facilitating its development. I realized it was likely not my life’s purpose to be in service to that particular ministry. For several months I prayed to God to give me direction and purpose for my life. One Sunday morning, I saw the new lead pastor of Woods Chapel Church, Robyn Miller, preach for the first time in worship.
   At that moment, I felt something shift in my heart the way a drawer in a dresser easily slides into place. The Holy Spirit said to me, “That. You are going to do that.” Since that moment, God has been working with me and within me to make me the best pastor I can be. God’s call led me to take the position of Worship Coordinator at Woods Chapel Church, where I have worked side-by-side with pastors to help them lead worship. God’s call led me to turn away from working in industry to working in ministry. God’s call led me to help initiate a ministry at Woods Chapel Church where we host worship services for residents of a care center once a month.
   God’s call led me to become a certified candidate for ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church. God’s call led me to apply at Candler School of Theology and to accept my admission there. And God’s call has led me to you, the people of Monticello First United Methodist Church. I cannot wait to hear what God is calling us to. I am ready to listen, and I hope you are, too. I have no doubt that God brought us all together for a divine purpose, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for all of us. This past week, I have been in licensing school in Missouri, thinking and dreaming and praying about the ministries and minds and hearts of Monticello First UMC and how the Holy Spirit will move in you and in me. Now, the next few years will not be easy.
   I will not be able to do all of the things that pastors of Monticello First UMC have been able to do in the past. I will be a full-time student as well as a contributing member of an intentional spiritual formation community in Atlanta. But the good news is that this also gives all of us an incredible opportunity to work together as parts of the body of Christ for the kingdom of God. Each of you has been gifted with natural talents and equipped with skills to share the love of Christ with everyone around you, and to make disciples for the transformation of the world. I cannot wait to see all of you.
Until we meet, please pray for me, and I will pray for you.
In grace and peace, Pastor Kara