Many of the Elders within the Free Methodist Church (FMC) serve as husband and wife teams. Kate and Leif Wallace Nunneley were ordained together at Annual Conference 2021.
I have known about God for as long as I can remember. At 3 years old, I decided to follow him, and the journey has been unfolding ever since. My growing up years seemed pretty uneventful, and God was always a part of my story. Then, during my senior year of college at Azusa Pacific, I experienced a “crisis of faith” that rocked my world and left me unsure of pretty much everything I’d ever believed. It didn’t take long for me to come back to believing God existed, but it took several years for me to believe that he really loves me—just as I am!—and embraces me wholeheartedly even if I never change. God’s patience with me over the next several years allowed me to change and grow in ways I had never dreamed of. I am still on this journey of transformation, but my life is now fully surrendered to the God who so graciously loves me and has given me second, third, and millionth chances.
How did the Spirit guide you to your current ministry and what has God called you to do through your ministry?
I’m in an interesting ministry season where I straddle the church-parachurch fence. I serve as a pastor at The Lamb’s Fellowship, the church where God has called me and my husband to build relationships and serve in various ministry capacities. I get to usher the congregation into corporate prayer on Sunday mornings, as well as lead our women’s Bible studies. On the other hand, my official job for the past 3 years has been as a Relationship Builder at Empowering Lives International, one of our conference’s official partner ministries. ELI works to ignite World Changers in East Africa, and I get the privilege of shepherding our ministry partners in their journey to discovering how God is calling them to be a part of that mission. I now also lead our team of Relationship Builders, and it’s a joy to watch as this incredible movement of God that is taking place in East Africa begins to spread here in the US too!
How did you come to first be involved with the Free Methodist Church and why have you chosen to continue your ministry in the Free Methodist Church?
I grew up occasionally visiting the Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara because my oldest brother and his wife attended there, so I was exposed to Free Methodism without having much idea what that meant. Then, I “happened” to pick Azusa Pacific for college. Though I had other reasons for choosing it, I now see that God had me on a particular journey, and APU played a key part. After college, as I began to wrestle with the possibility that I might be called to formal ministry, I wanted to find a church open to the idea that women could be pastors. While living in North County San Diego at the time, I found the Escondido Free Methodist Church, and the pastoral staff there began to help me discern my calling to ministry. I remember reading the Book of Discipline for the first time and feeling like I was “home”—all of my seemingly random beliefs on a myriad of issues were reflected back to me in a single, cohesive document. I knew I’d found “my people.”
After clearly sensing a call to pastoral ministry, I became a CMC in 2008, just before moving to Kentucky to begin my Master of Divinity at Asbury Theological Seminary. After waiting the allotted amount of time, I went up for ordination 6 years ago, but was asked to wait and work on some personal things so my life could sustain ministry for the long haul. I am so thankful for that pause because it set me on a radical journey of transformation that has landed me where I am today. I always felt like I would eventually be ordained, but life and having kids became more pressing. Plus, I knew I would continue with the ministry God had called me to regardless of whether I was ordained or not.
Then, a year and a half ago, our new pastor at Lamb’s told me it was finally time. Over the ensuing months the Lord confirmed that, so I took the steps necessary to proceed, and here I am! It has been a wild ride as I’ll either be 39 weeks pregnant or have a newborn at ordination. But I’m so grateful that God has made it clear that this is right where he wants me to be, so why would I be anywhere else?