Two issues could have turned Andrew Mead’s journey away from Church of the Servant. Early in his career, he wanted teaching, research, and scholarship. Twice he was a finalist at a distinguished theological university, only to be denied entry both times, despite a stellar resume and outstanding recommendations. (We can reasonably say that that university is a notch less distinguished now, having missed the chance to admit him.)
Fortunately for the band of believers at Church of the Servant, two things happened that pointed Andrew to the journey of ministry which we celebrate(d) on September 9. First, Andrew emerged from his discouragement concerning PhD studies with new openness to God’s leading, instead of bitterness at what many might take as a major setback. He began to explore anew his gifts, entered into profound vocational conversation with mentors and with Jana, who together affirmed his pastoral gifts. In a letter to Church of the Servant’s pastoral search team last year, Andrew recalled asking Jana how she felt about his becoming a pastor instead of a professor. “You already are a pastor,” she told him. He came to see it, too, and to embrace the gifts apparent to others and presenting more fully now to him.
Second, Andrew and Jana decided in 2012 to serve with the RCA at the Mekane Yesus Seminary in Addis Ababa, that mystical city where, just to the north, the Ark of the Covenant is alleged to be protected to this day, and where the first monarch is said to be the son of Sheba (the Queen) and Solomon (the King). Mekane Yesus was established by Norwegian missionaries in the mid-1950s, and had just joined forces with the larger evangelical movement in Ethiopia, founded by
SIM missionaries, in graduate theological education. During that time, they worshipped at the International Luther Church and Andrew was invited to join the preaching rotation. There, Jana said, Andrew found preaching to be “life-giving.” The anxiety he had felt was swept away by the power of the Word of God in a place many would find exotic if not strange. And his love of people grew as his passion for the Word preached with power opened bloom.
Andrew joined Church of the Servant as resident pastor in 2015. His parish was the Basic English Service and its all-continents congregation. He was funded by the Lilly Grant and retained with Lilly leftovers as the grant expired. In February, 2017, he and Jana received a letter inviting them to put down roots at Church of the Servant. Co-pastor he would be, should he accept this mission. His ministry gifts affirmed, Andrew confessed in his acceptance letter that he began to tear up as threads of what previously seemed like detours over the prior six years now became woven together, pointing to a people and a place where he could “love the Word,” preach it and teach it, indeed live it with others in the community of faith we call most often in acronym form, COS.