by Larry Diener, Franconia congregation
My sense of call has always been to the church, to the Body of Christ, and my primary area of ministry has been in music and worship. When I was a youngster, someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I answered—a “working preacher”. My dad was a bi-vocational pastor, and I guess I wanted to be like him. He worked hard at carpentry, and was a pastor/preacher for many, many years.
As I grew older, the “work” part stuck with me, but the “preacher” part didn’t. Even though I currently serve as a pastor at Franconia Mennonite Church, I have never felt called or gifted to be a preacher. Serving in music and worship as well as pastoral care are the areas into which I have felt called and equipped.
For much of my adult life, I was employed as a music teacher. I taught both vocal and instrumental music in elementary, junior high, and senior high schools. During that time, I was heavily involved in music and worship in various congregations. Sometimes it was in the form of a part-time job, but often it was on a voluntary basis. I have served in Brethren, Methodist, and American Baptist churches as well as several different Mennonite churches in different states.
So how did my sense of call to the church develop? I have no clear or precise answer to that question. I would simply say that as I matured in my faith during my teen years and early 20’s, I gradually developed a passion for music and worship in the congregational setting, and volunteered to serve in various capacities in whatever church I happened to be involved with. While in college, I took a part-time job as minister of music in a local church, and found that I loved the work, loved the people, and felt a deep sense of meaning and fulfillment in leading people in worship.
After I retired from teaching music, I was employed at Bahia Vista Mennonite Church in Sarasota, FL as the minister of music and worship. My wife, Doris, and I moved to this area in the fall of 2014, and I am currently serving at Franconia Mennonite Church in music and worship, and pastoral care. This call to church ministry has been very meaningful, humbling, and fulfilling.