‘Exploring Differences, Deepening Faith’

Translate Page

Stepping out of our comfort zones to follow God's calling on our life is risky, but full of unimaginable rewards. Six years ago, I did something I considered crazy: I quit a job I loved to follow a calling on my heart into ministry.

I am not one of those people who can tell you precisely what that ministry looks like, even six years later. Each step on this journey has taught me so much more than I expected. About three years ago, the journey led me to Hartford Seminary to get my Masters in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations.

The header on the seminary's website says, "Exploring Differences, Deepening Faith." Hartford Seminary is a multifaith, multicultural school. It houses the country's oldest center for the study of Christian-Muslim relations.

But what I have learned in my classes has been just a piece of my overall education at the seminary. I have learned so much from people I would never have had the pleasure to meet if I would not have answered God's call on my heart. My roommates and neighbors on campus have been mainly Christian and Muslim students from the United States, France, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Palestine, the Philippines, South Korea, Syria, Thailand and Turkey to name a few.

Our house has been the site of Thanksgiving, Eid and Christmas Eve celebrations, and movie nights. At one such gathering during the beginning of my first semester on campus, I watched a group playing Jenga. During the first couple of games, the students were playing for the pride of their individual countries. However, as the night progressed, alliances were made based on the house each lived in. It went from being a game between individuals from various counties into one that developed deeper friendships.

Teresa Mueller. A UMNS web-only photo courtesy of Teresa Mueller.
Teresa Mueller
A UMNS web-only photo courtesy of Teresa Mueller.

I may not have chosen any of my roommates and neighbors on campus, but they have truly been a gift. They are the people I eat with, disagree with, study with, play games with and pray with. In short, we have shared our lives in up-close and personal ways. Our kitchen has seen the late-night rehashing of a classroom discussion, news from around the world or happenings in our personal lives. Learning about a religious tradition is one thing, but getting to know the people from many cultures that make up those religious traditions brings it to life. This journey has led me around the world through the people I have met without even leaving home.

In a few months, I will be leaving this house that has been my temporary home to continue this journey. I will miss the kitchen and its many memories most of all. Its walls have been infused with the smells of myriad spices from all over the world. With each new roommate, I discover a new favorite spice or food. Each of them has enriched my life in so many different ways. Like the spices that enhance the flavor of foods, they have enhanced my life.

We all look at the world from our own unique perspective, and I have been truly blessed to be surrounded by others who have opened up and shared their lives with me, both inside and outside of class. My life is that much richer because of it.

*Mueller is pastor of United Methodist Church of Bolton, in Bolton, Conn. She is currently in the process of becoming a deacon.

News media contact: Joey Butler, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or [email protected].


Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

UMNEWS-SUBSCRIPTION
Local Church
High gas prices and inflation are affecting the ministries of United Methodist pastors in the U.S., who are dealing with increased demand at food pantries and other charities, as well as their own paychecks not stretching as far. Original photo by Paul Brennan, courtesy of Pixabay; graphic by Laurens Glass, UM News.

Inflation, gas prices complicate ministries

Rising prices are affecting the ministries of United Methodists, especially rural multi-point charges. Pastors also are finding the buying power of their paychecks shrinking.
Human Rights
A view of the U.S. Supreme Court. United Methodists have varied reactions after the Supreme Court on June 24 overturned Roe v. Wade, holding that there is no longer a federal constitutional right to an abortion. Photo courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol.

United Methodists react to end of Roe v. Wade

United Methodists alternately expressed fear and contentment with the U.S. Supreme Court decision released June 24 that holds there is no longer a federal constitutional right to an abortion.
Mission and Ministry
Tim Tanton (center, in red), chief news and information officer for United Methodist Communications, shares updates with African communicators and other UMCom staff during the 2019 General Conference. World Press Freedom Day, observed May 3, commemorates journalists and highlights the difficulties they face while reporting truth. File photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News

World Press Freedom Day and the church

Tim Tanton with United Methodist News talks about giving voice to the voiceless and why freedom of information is essential not only for society but for the church.