“Many of you may remember when I started as the organist at Hazelwood there was an insert in the church newsletter about my musical background.  The other part of my story many people don’t know is that alongside my musical journey, there has been a ministry side.  As I look back, I am amazed with all the ways God has used my gifts and talents in ministry to others.

“As a musician, I can sense when a composition is truly inspired, or when a composer is forcing the music/words.  Reverend Colby’s sermon on July 7th reminded me of one of the few songs for which I have composed both the melody and the words.  It was during a pivotal time in my childhood, when I was at church camp, where I felt God calling me into the life of ministry.  The call inspired the words and music that flowed effortlessly to paper:

I see a field of golden grain, but no workers to reap its gain. 
I see the master who is crying because His field is slowly dying.
Who will go and work for the Master today?Can you hear Him calling out your name?
I can hear the Master say, “Come work for me.
Come work for me before I lose another grain.”
So many people are ready to come. They hear His voice, they see the Son.
But no one comes to bring them in, and a soul is left in sin.
Who will go and work for the Master today?Can you hear Him calling out your name?
I can hear the Master say, “Come work for me.
Come work for me before I lose another grain.”

 O will you go, will you go and work for Him?

 The following year I was asked to lead the camp in the ‘Adventure Recreation’ program.  I worked with kids from elementary school up through high school youth.  I led them in activities that incorporated team-building exercises with spiritual lessons.

“By high school, my involvement in church grew from organist to helping with the youth programs and participating in the ministry groups at my high school.  God had laid on my heart not only the passion for these ministries, but a desire to look seriously at what God’s word was saying to me.  It is one thing to know what you believe; it is another thing to know why you believe what you believe.  No longer did the phrases ‘I believe it because I just do’ or ‘because that was what I was taught’ work.  I challenged myself in reading through the Bible and listening to what God had to say to me.  Through this awareness, I’ve become a stronger Christian, and been able to open up and understand all walks of faith.

“When I came to Ball State University, after celebrating my freedom for two weeks, I found myself at Creekwood Baptist Church.  They had an organ…and nobody to play it.  As I got more involved in the church and its programs, the pastor recognized the passion and call to ministry in my life.  He asked me to take over the youth program and go on a mission trip to Croatia.

“On Ball State campus, I also got involved in the Baptist Student Union, now called the Baptist Collegiate Ministries.  In my many roles, I helped lead the main Tuesday Study and Fellowship and the small group bible study.

“When I graduated from Ball State, I was called to serve at Gethsemane UMC where, in addition to my music responsibilities, I was in charge of the youth, and young adult ministries.  I began my seminary study at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, where I grew into more of an associate pastor role at Gethsemane.

“Now, here at Hazelwood, I am excited to be doing these ministries once again.  It seemed almost too serendipitous for me to ignore God’s hand in this call.  I am delighted with the support that I am already receiving from so many, and I look forward to seeing how God will use me to bless the ministries at Hazelwood.”                        

James Petty