Wesley Theological Seminary was not part of Rachel Luna's (MTS, 2017) original life plan, but an unexpected encounter with a remarkable organization set her on a course that eventually led to Wesley and its Community Engagement Fellows program, formerly called the Missional Fellows program.
Wesley Theological Seminary is one of the 13 United Methodist seminaries supported by the Ministerial Education Fund apportionment of the United Methodist Church.
With an undergraduate degree in social work, Luna began looking at graduate school options. "I felt like God was calling me to something and, the more I researched different schools, seminary kept popping up," Luna said. It was through a friend that she was introduced to Wesley.
Yet even before studying at Wesley, Luna was introduced to what has become a passionate pursuit of God's calling on her life. In 2009, a chance encounter with a friend at her home church in Franklin, Tenn., led Luna to apply for and be accepted as a Mountain Biking Coordinator at Project Transformation in Dallas, Texas.
Founded in 1998 by Sarah Wilke and Leighton K. Farrell in Dallas, in collaboration with several groups including the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church, Project Transformation was designed to develop the leadership and ministry capabilities of college-aged adults through summer and one-year service internships.
After hearing about Wesley and the Missional Fellows Program, Luna committed to following her call. "I didn't apply to any other grad schools. I only applied to Wesley and I was only going to Wesley if I was going to be a part of the Missional Fellows Program," she said.
Once she became a member of the Wesley community and Fellows program, Luna was required to participate in a field educational experience in a ministry setting that allows students to design a community engagement project. A discussion with Dr. Sam Marullo, Wesley's former director of research on missional communities, helped Luna chart the next steps on her journey.
As Luna continued her coursework, which included assignments that could directly relate to Project Transformation, she began to realize there was a need for a program like Project Transformation in Washington, D.C., particularly in the area of education.
With the help of many people within the Wesley community, the Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church and an advisory team, Luna applied to charter a Project Transformation chapter in D.C.On June 18, 2018, 14 interns and several community volunteers began working with 100 children and youth for the first summer of Project Transformation Washington, D.C. Luna is now the executive director of the chapter.
For Dr. Marullo, there is no doubt that there would not be a Project Transformation Washington, D.C. without Luna's dedication and commitment.
Luna found the program to be equally transformational. "There would be no Project Transformation D.C. without the Missional Fellows Program," she said.
Wesley's Theological Seminary
One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Ministerial Education Fund is at the heart of preparing people for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The 13 United Methodist seminaries help students to discover their calling through the challenging curriculum. The fund enables the church to increase financial support for recruiting and educating ordained and diaconal ministers and to equip annual conferences to meet increased demands. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Ministerial Education Fund apportionment at 100 percent.