Meet Anna Voinovich
Anna Voinovich is a 2018 Master of Divinity alumna of Garrett-Evangleical. A graduate of Bowling Green State University in Ohio, she has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish with minors in both Educational Studies and Gender & Sexuality Studies.
What have you discerned as your calling in the church and the world?
Working for Appalachia Service Project, I learned that I love working with youth and young adults. Leading construction projects was definitely not my calling, but I found that ministry with young people, particularly reflecting with them pastorally and theologically on the ways that social justice and faith intertwine, and about the challenges and growing pains of being a young person. This experience in particular shaped my call into one of pastoral care and theological formation for young adults.
Serving as a bridge from the church to the world is also part of my call; my vision of this continually expanding. When I came out in college, I found that many of my LGBT peers who were not participating in a church still experienced a deep sense of spirituality and connection with a higher power. Bridging this gap and healing wounds caused by discriminatory church doctrine and policy feels like part of my call. I hope to be a pastor who holds the door of the church wide open and empowers members of congregations to step outside the comfortable walls of the church building, embracing those for whom the church has not been a comfortable nor safe space. I am particularly interested in the role worship can play in being a space of healing and empowerment. As both the world and our denomination face great change, I embrace the opportunity to step out of our old molds and ask ourselves again, “What does it mean to be the church?”
What class/professor has made the biggest impact on you?
Rev. Dr. Cheryl Anderson’s Introduction to the Hebrew Bible course has made an incredible impact on me. In that course, I realized that I could be a theologian; I could be a Bible scholar. I have also taken her Biblical Law and HIV/AIDS courses and I have learned that it is always a problem when we put our doctrine before people; a lesson which will forever inform my ministry and academic pursuits. Additionally, Rev. Dr. Gennifer Brooks’ preaching course helped me to find my voice and overcome the fears I had about articulating my theology and my perspective. Overall, the experiences in these courses particularly have empowered me to find my voice and discern my vocation.
How has your faith been strengthened at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary?
Our community draws people from all walks of life, with greatly varied backgrounds and life experiences. This diversity enhances my education because we have a community of deep and differing faith, inviting me to look at my own and make space for new understandings. I also have the incredible opportunity to be a conversation partner this year, which means I meet weekly with a classmate who wants to practice speaking English. We read the Bible together, and go over sermons and papers they have written. We are working on language, but my faith is constantly stretched and reinforced through our conversations.
In a more personal way, my understanding of what spiritual practices are has been expanded. I have learned that spiritual practices are not only for personal piety, but are designed to strengthen you to re-enter the world with new and fortified commitment. I have learned that being in community and protesting injustice are spiritual practices. I am learning that I love art, and that, too, is a spiritual practice. In my field placement, I have the opportunity to create visual art connected to our life of worship.
Seminary is a privilege and I am continually grateful for what I learn here. I hope that continued efforts and faithful stewardship make it possible for more people to come as well, having the opportunity to grow deeper in faith and understanding of its relationship to their vocation, within or outside of the church.