Featured: The Rev. Megan Shitama: ‘Loving people for who they are’
The Rev. Megan Shitama: ‘Loving people for who they are’
The Rev. Megan Shitama, a retreat program coordinator at Pecometh Camp on the Maryland coast, found her call to ministry outside the church walls. She is most passionate about ministry when sharing the beauty of God's creation, helping people "experience God with their hearts as well as all of their senses."
Shitama has had a strong connection with Pecometh Camp and Retreat Ministries in Centreville, Md., since she was 5 years old. She camped there until she was 14, served on summer staff as a young adult and began her first clergy appointment there in 2012.
At 13, Shitama heard her call to ministry while worshipping at an outdoor chapel. She remembers thinking, "I don't want to be a pastor!" The calling persisted, until Shitama yielded to the beckoning to God's work when she was 20.
Shitama first became a youth director. "I loved youth ministry," she recalls, "but after three years, I felt that God was calling me out of the local church." She realized she was happiest while encouraging meaningful experiences among individuals, God and nature.
Ordained a deacon in June, Shitama is proud of the balance that United Methodists maintain between faith and reason. She says, "We hold together inward piety and outward justice."
The view of much of the world of the church troubles her. "People often have the impression that the church exists to tell people what to think," she says, "but our tradition encourages us to examine how Scripture and tradition intersect with our own experiences."
Shitama says Methodism's Wesleyan roots can offer the solution to current challenges, such as effectively communicating with today's generation. Outreach is critical, she says, remembering that the early Methodist movement caught on as it found its way into neighborhoods and communities.
She knows controversy in the church generates news coverage, but Shitama would be thrilled to see stories describing how United Methodists are making great strides in global missions and social justice advocacy.
Her hope for the future of the church is simple.
"It's about loving people for who they are, caring about their needs and becoming a part of their community. That's church." She emphasizes that the church should see the world as its parish, knowing no bounds for sharing God's love.
Kelly Caviness was a summer intern with the content team at United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn.