Scripture for the week: Exodus 4:1-13
What is happening in this passage?
The story of Moses’ call continues. In these verses, Moses replies to God’s call to go to Pharoah and call for the freedom of the Israelite people. Moses responds in about the same way I think most of us would: he comes up with excuses. First, it’s that people won’t believe him. Then it’s because he doesn’t think he’s fit for the task. God won’t take the bait on either excuse, so Moses pleads with God to “please send someone else.” How often do we feel God tugging at us to do something and we run through this same litany? Surely it isn’t God calling me to do this. Even if God is calling me, I’m not the right person. Even if I am the right person, please send someone else. What might it look like if instead of responding like Moses, we responded with listening, receiving, and going?
The remainder of this week’s 5-Point Friday is the first part of a two-part series in which I interview Rev. Chatty Chapman, who will be the site coordinator for the Academy 4 partnership between UUMC and George C. Clarke Elementary. In this interview, Chatty will share a little about herself and about the work of Academy 4.
5PF: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Chatty: First and foremost, I’m not that talkative. “Chatty” comes from a nickname my sister gave me. She wanted a Chatty Cathy doll but got me instead. So, she called me by the doll’s name.
I moved a lot as an Air Force brat but graduated from high school in San Antonio. It was there, on the floor of the fellowship hall of St. Andrew’s UMC, that I felt the call to ministry. After graduating from Southwestern University (Go Pirates!) and Scarritt Graduate School, I served churches in the Southwest Texas (now Rio Texas) Conference as a Diaconal Minister. In 1997, I was ordained a Deacon in Full Connection.
Last summer I moved to the Fort Worth area to be closer to family. In addition to working with Academy 4, I am working in Birdville ISD as a librarian. I am blessed to have two incredible daughters – Rachel, a junior at UNT and Elizabeth, a junior at Azle H.S. We love traveling, playing with our dogs, and putting off cleaning the kitchen.
5PF: What does it mean to be a deacon in the United Methodist Church?
C: I love being a deacon! It embodies everything I feel called to do. There are several paragraphs in the Book of Discipline that describe the various aspects of the ministry of the deacon, but for me, this sentence says it best – “Deacons are called to a lifetime ministry of Word, Service, Compassion and Justice to both the community and the congregation, in a ministry that connects the two.” BOD ¶329 That’s why I am so excited about working with Academy 4. This is a great opportunity to connect University UMC to the community around us by serving the 4th graders at Clarke and working with the high school students at Paschal. We have a chance to forge significant relationships over the next year – relationships that can be life changing for the students and dare I say, even us.
5PF: What is Academy 4?
C: Academy 4 was created in 2012 out of a congregation’s desire to make a positive impact on an inner city public school in their neighborhood. They worked with the school to design a curriculum that would reach every 4th grader on the campus, not just a few. This year, Academy 4 will be in 11 elementary schools in both the DFW and Austin areas.
Academy 4 meets once a month on a Friday afternoon. All of the 4th graders and their teachers join with mentors and club leaders and other volunteers for an incredible afternoon. They start with attending 2 different club sessions which give them a chance to experience extra-curricular activities they might not have access to otherwise. Following clubs, students and mentors meet together for fun-filled leadership training session complete with music, puppets, and videos. Finally, the students spend one on one time with their mentor, discussing the leadership characteristic of the day and how it applies to their lives. The afternoon ends with students and mentors connecting through an activity of their choice – games, crafts, reading together or just talking.
In just 90 minutes a month, mentors have a chance to build a relationship with a student that can truly make a difference in his or her life.
5PF: Why 4th graders?
C: Having just come from a school serving 750 fourth and fifth graders, I can certainly understand why fourth graders are the target audience. Fourth graders are at the age where they have the ability to grasp abstract concepts – like leadership characteristics. They still enjoy spending time with and having fun adults. Bobb Biehl, a coach for Fortune 500 executives, reported that when he asked his clients when it was that they first realized there were leaders (and not just followers), he found that 90% of them said it was when they were in the fourth grade.
Stay tuned for Part II next Friday!