Michael Gillingham

In June 2013, I’ll have completed twenty years of fulltime church work. I’m grateful to God for the opportunity to serve in the church and in the world. God has helped me, guided me, strengthened me and forgiven me on so many occasions. What a good God we serve!

As I look back on my life, I see God at work, gifting me with faith and helping me to know His love. I was baptized as a baby at Valhalla Lutheran Church in Valhalla Centre, Alberta. My parents and grandparents took me to worship regularly. When I was old enough, I attended Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and Bible camp. I remember receiving my first Bible when I was in grade 3. I loved to read it and to look at the wonderful pictures of Bible events painted by the artist Richard Hook. When I think about Jesus, I think about Richard Hook’s inspiring paintings. My family was very involved in church and we were often personal friends with our pastors and their families. This helped me to realize that pastors are people, too, who live normal lives with all the challenges and blessings of family life. I very much admired my pastors.

In grade 7, I started Confirmation classes. We studied the Bible narrative in our first year and the catechism in our second year. Our pastor had been a professor at a Bible school so his classes were very instructive and demanding. I remember learning a lot. Confirmation Sunday was a special day for me as I declared my faith in God and promised to love and serve Him all my life. I continued to attend worship and was very involved in youth group. My pastor knew that I played guitar and he asked me to help with music in church from time to time. As I grew older, my pastor encouraged me to consider fulltime church work. I really started to consider the possibilities.

After high school, I toured Canada and parts of the United States with a Christian music ministry team called Morning Star. I learned a lot about the church, about ministry and about serving God as I sang, played guitar and helped with different presentations and events. I also met my wife on the tour. Lynne is a faith-filled Christian woman who has been such an encouragement and support to me. After tour, I went to Concordia College (now Concordia University College) in Edmonton. I started a degree in Psychology with plans to attend seminary. Lynne and I married and we started a family as I worked my way through my degree. When I graduated, I asked about studies at the seminary. At the same time, I was offered a job working with youth ministry, music ministry and young adult ministry at Hope Lutheran Church (now Hope Lutheran Church and School) in Port Coquitlam, BC. I prayed about it and decided to take the job at Hope. I had a wonderful time learning and growing as a church worker while I worked with Pastor Ron Towriss and the good people in the congregation there. I served at Hope for four years. I then moved to Rocky Mountain House, Alberta to serve with youth ministry, music ministry and young adult ministry at Immanuel Lutheran Church. I continued learning and growing as a church worker while I worked with Pastor Tim Richholt and the good people in the congregation there. During my time in Rocky Mountain House, I completed the colloquy requirements for certification as a Director of Parish Services in Lutheran Church – Canada. In 2004, I began work as Director of Youth Ministry at Bethel Lutheran Church in Sherwood Park. I’ve appreciated the chance to work closely with Pastor Marv Ziprick and the other staff and members of Bethel as I serve in youth ministry. I’ve been encouraged to grow as a person of faith, as a leader and as a member of my local community in my time at Bethel. As I reflect on my life as a church worker, I’m so thankful for my family, my pastors, and my brothers and sisters in Christ who have encouraged, supported and guided me along this path. I truly feel blessed to serve and to share God’s love in so many different ways with so many different people.

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