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What's in a Name? by Emily Shubilla

A lot, actually.

Some may have noticed that my title has recently changed from Director of Christian Education to Director of Youth and Family Ministries. The official change took place after the personnel committee, Head of Staff, and myself reviewed my first year at JMPC and updated my job description and title. But the actual change came more as a change of heart that took place January 2023, after the Association of Partners in Christian Education Conference in Birmingham, AL.

Here's the story.

I have an extreme love of learning, education, and all things kids, so it was a natural decision I made around five years old to become a teacher. I studied hard, did all the field experience, got some degrees, and got on all the substitute teaching lists. I subbed every day with some long-term experiences and day-to-day in between. Summer came and I needed a job. I pivoted to Early Childhood Education and a career in childcare. After a few years, I became a mom and put my career on pause.

In 2022, it was becoming time to press “play” again. I found myself looking around for direction and guidance. The church had already been a big part of my life and there was a void that needed to be filled. It was a blessing to become the Director of CE and I was so excited to start a new chapter as a part-time employee. I hit the floor running and started to plan all the things. In addition to programming, events, classes, and lessons, I joined every cohort, took every training, and leaned into every experience that I found. I even decided to go to a week-long conference alone without even ever flying solo! I was going to take the world by storm.

 I immediately connected with two other solo travelers who became my conference partners.

After three days of classes, adventures, and more, I started to feel really, really tired. It was A LOT! So much to see and do. I was commiserating with my newfound friends about my lack of energy and the need to wake up early again to go to some workshop. Their response was surprising to me. Just don’t go. Um, what? How can I just not go? Wouldn’t I miss something?

Their response was rest. Some of the presenters and worship leaders encouraged us to fill our cups however we needed- including skipping whatever part of the conference that wasn’t serving them. To just be. Be with the people around us. Be with God.

Alongside a growing spiritual family, my faith started shifting. I realized that God does not call us to run after God. God never asked me to run as fast as I can to prove that I was the most faithful, best child. God was calling me to rest and I finally felt like I was breathing again. I felt like I was slowly taking in God’s word surrounded by people who just got me more than any group I have ever been a part of. It was overwhelming and beautiful.

I came home refreshed and blessed with a new outlook on my call to serve at JMPC. I realized that I needed to slow down, to listen, and take in our church’s culture and real needs.

Thank you all for supporting me in so many ways, including letting me define my own work and even renaming myself to reflect my most authentic self. My focus will continue to be building relationships, deepening my love for God, and learning from those around me. I am so thankful that God called me to the church and I cannot wait to see where I am led to serve.

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