Tell us about yourself/your family. Are there any particular moments from early in your life that awakened you to a call to ministry? Have there been key persons who have helped nurture the call in you?
I am from Hendersonville, North Carolina where my parents, Bonnie and Sherman Waters, serve the district as interim pastors. I have a triplet brother and sister, Montgomery Sparrow and Amanda Sparrow, as well as a brother-in-law, Justin Ellison who live in Nashville, TN. My husband’s name is Cameron.
I grew up in a parsonage home in North Carolina. Both my mother and father are ordained elders in the Church of the Nazarene. Growing up in that environment showed me the joys and heartaches that came with answering a call to ministry. When I received my call, I was reluctant to answer.
Dr. Nina Gunter became instrumental in nurturing my call. During Dr. Gunter’s first year of being General Superintendent Emeritus, she came to our little Nazarene camp meeting in Hendersonville, NC as the keynote preacher. Honestly, I have no idea what she preached on, but I experienced the clear leading of the Spirit, urging me to let go of my fear and open myself up to full love of Christ. It was in that moment I answered the call. Dr. Nina Gunter would continue to be a supportive force in the refinement of the call, helping me get to Trevecca Nazarene University and later helping my husband Cameron and I make the decision to go to Nazarene Theological Seminary.
How has your sense of call been refined over the years?
Trevecca Nazarene University helped me define my call while simultaneously empowering me with a theological and biblical foundation. NTS has been the place where I have been able to build upon that foundation through the exchange of ideas in the classroom, the NTS community at large, and in the local congregation that I serve. I have had the unique opportunity to live in student housing and pastor on the Kansas City district, which has afforded me a holistic education in pastoral ministry.
What program are you in? What is life like at NTS?
I am in the Master of Divinity program. My decision to enter into the Mdiv program was due to the fact that it is the most comprehensive degree with an emphasis on orthodoxy and orthopraxy. I have a year and a half left in the program.
Currently, my husband, Cameron, and I live right across the street from NTS in a communal home. What was initially a choice made out of economic necessity has become a means of grace. In sharing our recourses with fellow students, we have come to experience what it means to pour into someone’s life in their most vulnerable moments and to let down our defenses and allow others to breathe life into us. I am confident that we will walk away from this experience with a more Christian definition of family. For that, we thank NTS.
Have there been professors at NTS who have made a significant impact on your life?
Ever since my undergraduate program, church history has always intrigued me. When I started at NTS, I naturally gravitated toward those classes. In the class, Doctrine of the Church, Dr. Steve McCormick opened up my mind to the interconnectedness of historical events related to the development of Christian Orthodoxy. He taught me that to understand one, you must understand the other.
Dr. Joy and Dr. Harold Raser made church history tangible. History classes normally require a vast amount of reading and as a student with a reading disability, this posed a mountain of a challenge. However, the Rasers taught me that art, literature, theater, architecture, and film are a viable revelatory resources for understanding history. By engaging in theses mediums along with textbooks, I was empowered to grasp the concepts they were trying to portray and thereby find my place at the table in the conversation of church history. All three of these professors took the time to understand my unique learning style and equip me to be successful at a graduate level.
What led you to enroll in NTS?
Honestly, it was affordable and the place to go as a Nazarene. However, it has become much more than an assumed expectation. NTS is the place where I found my theological voice. It has been the place where I have been able to make sense of, and rebuild my theological paradigm in light of the much needed theological deconstruction of my undergrad.
Are you currently serving in a ministry assignment?
I am currently the Pastor to Children and their Families at Nall Avenue Church of the Nazarene, located in Mission, Kansas. I never saw myself serving the church in this capacity but have completely fallen in love with it. My assignment is unique because Nall has two services, an English-speaking service and a Spanish-speaking service. The challenge has come in recognizing that even within those separate congregations, there are sub-sets of particularities within them; different nationalities, cultural assumptions, economic standing, and access to education, just to name a few. The children’s ministry reflects all of it, all at once. Before NTS, my posture of ministry may have been a model of assimilation, but because of NTS, I have been taught to celebrate what makes us different. The joy of ministering in this context has come from embracing the particularities though a posture of humility and listening. Our mission is that our children’s church will be a safe place to celebrate who we are in our entirety, which will therefore lead to unity in Christ.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
One of our main hobbies is studying religious architecture and art. We have enjoyed visiting the Nelson Atkins Museum and local religious sites in the Kansas City area. In addition to this, we occasionally volunteer with a local animal activist group that rescues rabbits. This where we adopted the NTS mascot, Miss Bun Bun.