HYDE PARK - Miranda Harrison-Quillin is returning to St. John's Episcopal Church and her former school, but this time, she is the one leading the church's young people
Harrison-Quillin, 26, will start Aug. 12 as youth director and assistant to the chaplain at the church. A resident chaplain at Tampa General Hospital, Harrison-Quillin most recently helped develop the youth curriculum at Hyde Park United Methodist Church, which she attended while growing up.
This week, we spoke with her about her job and what drew her to it.
Q: Why did you decide to pursue this as your life's work?
Answer: I am called by God to serve God and God's people. It's not so much about what I decided to do but more about deciding to follow where I am being led. I would be lying if I said that answering the call to ministry is not scary. The life of ministry is both terrifying and difficult, but it's also unbelievably joyful and exhilarating.
Q: Why do you want to do this work here in this area?
Answer: South Tampa is my home. I love that Hyde Park UMC is my home church. I attended St. John's Episcopal for middle school and I find it so perfect that I get to come back and be part of the spiritual formation of a new generation at a place that was so formative for me. I have also been privileged to work at Tampa General Hospital as a chaplain in their Clinical Pastoral Education program. I am sure that at some point I will be called to serve God elsewhere, but until that day comes I will cherish the time I have doing the work I love in the place that I love.
Q: What are some things you do to engage young people in church?
Answer: One very hot buzzword in youth ministry these days is "relevant." People respond when they can see why any of this matters to them. I find that young people are not so different from other people in that they are all, in fact, people. And what is church? Church is a body of believing people endeavoring to live the life of faith together. I think the weight of engagement is on the church, not any subgroup. I would say that I try to be the church as fully as possible so that people of any age need not be incentivized into engagement, but rather they propel their own involvement and commitment.
Q: What is your favorite part about your job?
A: I would have to say my favorite part of ministry is being a witness to the moments of depth and power that are inevitable when walking the journey of faith together with others. And the cherry on top would be the epic road trip karaoke moments that any youth ministry worth its salt must have.
Q: Who is your favorite singer?
A: Gun to my head? Adele. No, Judy Garland. No wait, Lady Gaga. Clearly, I can't narrow it down so I'll just go with my first instinct: my mom, Carmen Quillin.