YODER FOLLOWING PASSION TO PULPIT
Anita Hooley Yoder had never considered following in the footsteps of her father, the pastor—now for 27 years—of First Mennonite Church in Canton, Ohio.
But that changed when her first experience with ministry, at a girls’ camp, "planted the seed" for her passion to pursue a master of divinity degree through Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.
"I gave in to ministry because I continued to be excited about theology questions," said Yoder during an early November visit to Bluffton University as part of its minister in residence program. She began working on her degree in 2010 and hopes to graduate next spring.
The niece of Dr. Donald Hooley, a Bluffton mathematics professor, Yoder studied English education at Goshen College. But in education, "one thing I ran into is that I couldn’t address the kids’ spiritual needs, and there is opportunity to do that in ministry," the Cleveland Heights, Ohio, resident said.
Yoder is currently serving a pastoral internship at her church, Friendship Mennonite, in Bedford Heights. She visited The Lion and Lamb Peace Arts Center at Bluffton to find resources to help her write Sunday school curriculum. The internship also requires her to set a self-care goal, and she chose to hike Ohio’s Buckeye Trail for love of the outdoors.
Stephen "Tig" Intagliata, Bluffton’s campus pastor, invited Yoder to come as a minister in residence after seeing an article she wrote in The Mennonite magazine. The article included ideas that also became her topic for a campus chapel message, "Blessed Are Those Who Question."
"The implication for me is that we are allowed to question God and wrestle with faith," she said about her message. "There is something there to question and pay attention to in order to grow in faith."
Yoder liked the connection the minister in residence program offered between her church—which wasn’t very familiar with Bluffton—and the university. On campus, she also enjoyed the student participation in chapel and in two religion classes she visited. "It’s encouraging to see professors and students who are engaged and thinking about which direction to move in," she said.
Bluffton public relations, 11/15/12