“Open arms and your gifts make an incredible impact”
In my visit to Richardson (TX) First United Methodist Church, I met with Rev. Clayton Oliphint and Rev. Pavielle Jenkins. After a short time, I realized what a special church this is and how connected the pastors are to helping others. The Oliphint Family established a scholarship endowment to make a difference in the lives of students.
“But it was Pavielle’s story that made me realize how the open arms of the Church and scholarship gifts make an incredible impact,” Bruce Blumer, UMC Development Center
My father was in a car accident that damaged his frontal lobe, and my mother has suffered from chronic illness for a majority of her life. Because of these circumstances, I had a lot of responsibility at an early age as the oldest of three girls. Childhood was challenging. There were times when I would arrive home from school eager to complete homework, but the electricity was cut off. There were moments when money for necessities such as food and clothing was scarce. It was through these unfortunate events, that Jesus was made real for me in the neighbors and church members who fed us, who brought us clothes, and provided light for us in a dark time.
The most vivid experience of this was when we were evicted from our home. It was a traumatic experience, as I had lived in the same home for all of my childhood. By this point, my parents were separated, and my mom was advised to take her three daughters to a shelter. Before she even had time to think about it, a family from down the street took us into their home. It was as if Jesus opened his arms and welcomed us into his warm embrace.
This family truly lived according to the great commandment and embodied Jesus Christ through their joyous acceptance of us as part of their family. That moment deeply impacted me and continues to shape me and my faith today. Because I experienced God’s love and grace in such a way, I cannot help but want to share it with others.
From that moment forward, I became even more involved in mission through the church. The summer after we lost our home, I was presented with the opportunity to travel to Juarez, Mexico where we built a cinder block home for a family that was previously living in a cardboard box. It was through that experience that I learned that no matter how little I might have financially, I am still blessed to be a blessing to others through my time, effort, and presence. Shortly after this mission trip, I attended conference camp at Bridgeport Camp and Conference Center. During worship one evening, I vividly recall hearing God and having an overwhelming sense of knowing that I was to dedicate my life to ministry. After speaking with adults at camp and my youth leader, I faithfully accepted my call. Following that experience, multiple doors opened for me to use the leadership skills God blessed me with to serve as a leader in the church. I served as the Vice-President and President of my youth group, Vice Chair and Chair of the North Texas Conference Council on Youth Ministry, representative to the South Central Jurisdiction Youth Leadership Team, and Chair of the National Organization for Youth Ministry.
After high school, God continued to provide ways for me to serve in ministry. One of these opportunities was an internship in student ministry at First United Methodist Church Richardson where I served during all four years of my undergraduate studies in Psychology at Southern Methodist University. By the time graduation approached, my mother was so ill that I become the sole provider for our family. Knowing that I needed to provide for my mother and younger sisters, I thought that I needed to leave the ministry. However, a new youth director was hired and asked me to be his partner in ministry. I agreed to work part-time in addition to the full-time position I had already accepted at SMU with the thought that I would only help him temporarily.
As I reflect on my call to ministry, there is no question that God continues to use these real life encounters with Jesus that I had as a child to guide me. After years of wrestling with God, I fully accepted my call to ministry after hearing Bishop McKee share his testimony at Annual Conference in 2013. I stepped out in faith despite the uncertainty of how I would be able to financially support my mother without my other job and pay for seminary. I resigned from my position at SMU, started a full-time position at the church, and began attending seminary at Perkins School of Theology as a full-time student. By God’s grace, I received enough scholarship money each year from Perkins, GHBEM, UMHEF, United Methodist Women, and the North Texas Conference to graduate from seminary debt free!
I have absolute clarity that I am called to become a Deacon in the United Methodist Church. There is a burning passion within me to serve people in need, to educate others about the importance, as well as provide opportunities for them to do so. I also am passionate about walking alongside people as they grow in their faith and providing discipleship opportunities for that to occur. I know that God placed this passion within me and am faithfully continuing on the journey to answer God’s call.
For more information on making an impact on people like Pastor Pavielle, please contact me at:
Bruce L Blumer – EdD, CFRE
Executive Director of Development
Pavielle Chriss Jenkins
Associate Director of Student Ministry
First United Methodist Church Richardson