When Master of Divinity student Monica Raines first decided to attend Wesley, it was mostly due to the location in Washington, D.C., and the fact that Wesley is a United Methodist seminary. Coming from a small town in North Carolina, Raines appreciated the city environment and felt that the campus was very Spirit-filled, she said.
Now as Raines prepares to graduate on May 8, she feels passionately about putting down roots in the area. She will begin a new appointment as the senior pastor at Christ United Methodist Church in Southwest D.C. on July 1 and is on track to become a provisional elder in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference this summer.
Raines first felt called to become a pastor 13 years ago when she was 18 years old, she said. “I am excited to finally be doing ministry full time and doing a job I feel called to,” Raines said. “I’m excited to preach and lead the church in meeting the needs of the community.”
At Christ UMC, Raines will build upon a passion for serving the poor that she discovered while at Wesley. She will also continue the work former Christ UMC pastor and Wesley adjunct faculty member, Rev. Adrienne Terry, carried forward in the areas of affordable housing and community ministry. Raines will serve as the first appointed pastor to Christ UMC since Rev. Terry’s death in June 2016.
“I’m looking forward to reaching all members of the diverse community and being the community’s church,” Raines said. “I want our church to be known throughout the community as a place that shows what it looks like to love and serve as a witness to the love of Christ.”
Raines’ experience at her Practice in Ministry and Mission (PM&M) placement at Emory Fellowship United Methodist Church with mentor Rev. Dr. Joe Daniels likewise influenced her understanding of what it means to be a community church.
“Rev. Daniels has great humility for someone who has accomplished so much,” Raines said. “He has such a heart for serving and is definitely a community leader. His church is one of the best examples of what being the community church should look like.”
While at Wesley, Raines took advantage of opportunities to learn more about issues of poverty through an intercultural immersion trip to El Salvador and in her classes. Her “Theology and the Global Poor” class, taught by Wesley faculty members Dr. Beverly Mitchell and Dr. Sathi Clarke, showed her that poverty is often created, she said. That is an understanding she plans to take with her to future ministry placements.
“I’ve grown the most in my understanding of how inclusive the Gospel and the Kingdom of God are,” Raines said. “I want Christ UMC to be a church where everyone can be included and everyone has what they need. Like the early church in Acts, everyone comes and brings what they have and no one goes without.”
Raines’ education at Wesley, which was made possible in part by a scholarship she received, has equipped and prepared her for ministry in the church. As she leaves Wesley, Raines feels called to the pastorate and to serve the poor.
“My time at Wesley has enriched my understanding of what it means to be a person who works in the Kingdom of God,” she said. “I see God moving in my friendships and the diversity of theology present here to teach me new things that God wanted me to know before I become a pastor.”