Chrysalis kid Jenny Day is now the pastor at Bon Air UMC in Richmond. Here’s her Chrysalis story in her own words…..
When I was younger I had my whole future planned out. When I grew up I was going to be an elementary school teacher. I adored my third grade teacher, Mrs. Corsepeous, or Mrs. C. as we called her, and I wanted to be just like her. I was going to be one of those cool, fun, young teachers that all the kids wanted. I would never punish students unjustly and I would be sure to reward the students who consistently behaved. I was certain it was what I was born to do. In addition to being a teacher I was going to marry my high school sweetheart right out of college and have my first child by age 25. When little Kathryn was born I would stay at home to take care of her and her 3 siblings that would follow 2, 4, and 6 years later so by 31 I would be a stay-at home mom with 4 kids. When the youngest, Lily, started kindergarten I would go back to work, but only part time (probably as a preschool teacher like my mom did) so that I would be home in the afternoon when my kids returned from school. My husband would be either a successful doctor, lawyer, or dentist and we would live in a modest single family home with our two cats. I would drive a mini-van and be the ultimate PTA running, Girl Scout leading, soccer mom. That was the plan for my life. Well, that was my plan at least. God obviously had a different plan, because here I am a few years past 31 and the only part of my plan that came true is I have two cats. God had something different in mind for me.
When I was in 6th grade my mom walked on Emmaus. My dad had walked the previous year but I don’t remember that. What really stood out to me was all the junk food (I was a kid after all) and the many trinkets my mom came home with. At my mom’s closing worship I remember asking my dad if there was anything like Emmaus for kids and he told me that they did have something for high schoolers. High school?! That was 4 years away (back in those days you had to be a sophomore to walk)!! So for 4 years I waited until finally it was time. A wonderful woman from my home church, Beth Ann Eadie, came to me and said she would like to sponsor me for Chrysalis 33, I jumped at the chance.
My Chrysalis walk wasn’t earth shattering or transformative, not directly at least. It was a wonderful weekend with wonderful people but it wasn’t new information to me. I grew up in a Christian home with faith-filled parents. I was very active in my church, Annandale UMC, and as far back as I can remember I have believed in God and had a personal relationship with God. I knew my parents loved me. I knew God loved me. My Chrysalis walk was simply a lovely reminder of what I already knew.
Looking back over my life I can see that what Chrysalis did do was open me up to hearing my call to ordained ministry. It was sometime in the spring of that year that my answer to “what do you want to be when you grow up?” went from “3rd grade teacher” to “minister.” There was no burning bush, no lightening bolt, it was purely an understanding from within me that this was what God wanted for my life. I believe I was ready to hear it because of the renewal I felt on Chrysalis 33.
Since that January weekend so long ago I have been blessed beyond what words can express. I began teaming the following year and I haven’t stopped since. The greatest gift of teaming is the many friendships that have come from it. My best friends came out of Chrysalis and I would not be who I am today without the love and support of everyone in the Chrysalis & Emmaus community.
Last month, 19 years after my chrysalis walk, I went up on the mountain once again and this time as a spiritual director. It was the 9th weekend I’ve been on as an spiritual director and every time it still blows me away. It’s up at the 4-H center in Front Royal Virginia where my journey to ordination began. Rachel Guthrie Priestly was the MD on my weekend, 2 years later she became the youth director at my church at a time when I needed someone to care about the youth group. 9 years after my walk I went to my first appointment at Prince of Peace UMC where I was in ministry with Edwin Clever, one of the spiritual director’s from my walk. When I was ordained in 2011, Edwin stood up there beside me. My table leader, Phyllis Early, was the first female pastor I met. It was the one time in many teams that Phyllis was a table leader and not an spiritual director, I am quite certain this was not a coincidence. God used Chrysalis 33 to prepare me for my own call to ministry.
I am now in my 10th year of pastoral ministry, serving in my 3rd appointment and 4th church. My 10 years of ministry have been filled with many joys and its share of sorrows. Through it all I feel humbled and blessed to be called “pastor.” As a pastor I am invited into the most intimate times in peoples’ lives. Their greatest joys and deepest mourning. I have been at the bedside of the dying and walked beside so many in their times of grief. I have shepherded a church as it closed its doors. I have baptized sweet babies and welcomed them into the community of faith. I have presided over weddings and been in mission beside youth. I have been dunked in a tank of water and slept outside in a cardboard box. I’ve led preschool chapels and dressed up in goofy outfits for VBS. I’ve sat in the court room of a murder trial and been the one to tell family members that a loved one had died. I’ve been called to the hospital in the middle of the night and have cried when church members have passed away. I have met hundreds of people who have shaped my own faith journey and touched my soul. This calling as pastor has been a crazy, amazing ride that was never in my plans for my life, yet I am so thankful that it was in God’s.
FLY WITH CHRIST