My Faith Journey by Reverend Courtney Stamey
I became a Christian standing beside the oversized gray mailbox of my home church in DeLand, Florida. My grandmother, Anne, taught me about Jesus in her words and through her life. So, it makes sense that my decision to become a Christian happened not at an altar call, but alongside the woman who exemplified life with Jesus as Teacher, Friend, and Savior. I was baptized five years later at Christ Community Church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. My church family supported me and nurtured my faith. When I received my call to ministry at fourteen, I found myself at an impasse. My denomination did not ordain women. In High School, I attended First Baptist Church of DeLand. FBC DeLand was the first place I saw women serve as Deacons. My eyes were open to new possibilities as I departed to Gardner-Webb University. During college, I was in Campus Ministries leadership, served as a summer Youth and Children’s Minister at Antioch Baptist Church (Antioch, SC), taught Sunday School at Boiling Springs Baptist Church (Boiling Springs, NC), and worshiped consistently at Broad River Community Church (Boiling Springs, NC). Each faith community was formative, but none were home. I was unable to find the oversized gray mailbox.
In my first year of Divinity School, I visited many congregations in different traditions. In my second year, Michael was called to serve as Youth and Children’s Minister at First Baptist Church of High Point, NC. I felt needed, welcomed, and loved there. I found my oversized gray mailbox. FBC High Point is where I officially became a Baptist. On November 16, 2014, they ordained me to the Gospel Ministry, during an interim. How Baptist of them! They trusted me to preach, write curriculum, and serve on committees.
I continued to attend FBC High Point through my education and Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Chaplaincy Residency at Cone Health (Greensboro, NC). During my year in the hospital, I worked in the Neuro/Trauma ICU. I accompanied folks through their most dramatic circumstances. I felt needed but, I desired longer-term relationships, to journey through the peaks and valleys, and to boldly live out the call of Jesus in our worship and lives. I wanted to serve a congregation.
To build more church experience, I decided on a Pastoral Residency. My current position is Bi-Vocational Pastoral Resident at Peacehaven Community Farm and First Baptist Church of Greensboro. The work at both Peacehaven and FBC has influenced my belief that belonging is the center of the Kingdom of God. Churches and Christians have a unique opportunity to live into the call of belonging by embodying what it means to be needed, welcomed, and loved. I am called to shine a light on someone else’s oversized gray mailbox, the ordinary place where Christ comes to dwell, and the place that inexplicably feels like home. Northside, a church planted for the neighborhood, can be such a home for folks needing a place to belong.