My Formation Story: As told by Reverend Vanessa Williams-Henke
Rev Vanessa Williams-Henke picture left in above image.
“Here we go…”
As you read this please know that I did finally get ordained as a Deacon and I survived the formation process – and this is my story.
The formation process was tricky for me – purely because I thought God had made me the way I was and wasn’t that good enough? I just didn’t want to change and lose my ‘Vanessa-ness’.
So I found myself kicking and screaming for the first six months not wanting to be changed or formed.
Please don’t get me wrong – I knew I had rough bits that needed smoothing out… well actually… more like jagged bits that would rub up against people, not bringing out the best in them or myself.
By the second half of my first year I was in the swing – I had submitted to the process and I had realised that I didn’t know everything and that I desperately needed formation big time!
I needed a “God intervention” if I was going to be ready for Ministry.
I diligently engaged in the extra study asked of me, the formation programs, the singing, the worship planning and the reflection process, and I went about making lifelong friendships.
All aspects of UTC helped my formation, the study process was essential as I learned to see God from many different perspectives and my theological framework was expanded.
My colleagues in the candidate process helped sharpen me.
The faculty of ministers and educators helped shape and mould me into the minister I needed to become, assisting in the smoothing out of those rough bits I mentioned.
Field placements can’t help but shape you into a minister, and it is here that you get to practice all aspects of ministry life under the guidance of a professional – whilst all the time giving valuable feedback on your development. I went to Wesley Mission, Ravenswood Girls School and explored Lane Cove Chaplaincy – three very different placements all offering a variety of experiences which helped me explore my gifts and to know
undoubtedly where I needed to be in the future – and this certainly assisted the discernment process. It was invaluable.
The biggest influence was the Holy Spirit because once God spoke to me about submission and formation, the process became effortless.
Hearing from God is always extremely affirming!
Reverend Vanessa Williams-Henke is now a chaplain at MLC – Sydney, a Uniting Church school.