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.
My parents brought me to church when I was young, and it was there that I first experienced the love of God. I remember deciding at 7 years old that I wanted to commit my life to Christ. Somewhere along the way, my parents stopped attending church, but I continued. Knowing the love of God as I grew up changed everything for me. My relationship with Jesus has grounded me and guided me throughout my life. One of the reasons I am passionate about the local church is because my own faith was fostered through the pastors, small group leaders, and mentors who poured into me.
How did the Spirit guide you to your current ministry and what has God called you to do through your ministry?
I am a licensed marriage and family therapist and I provide counseling to people in our community through our local church counseling center. I served as a youth pastor for 6 years, and I currently provide leadership for our women’s ministry.
In 2011 I was coaching Cross Country and Track at Hope International University and I had the opportunity to earn a master’s degree as a part of my employment agreement. They had a great Marriage and Family Therapy program, but it is a big commitment and I wasn’t going to begin that unless I really felt called. I had been told that it would be a good fit for me, but I was resistant to the idea. I began a master’s in education, but it didn’t feel right. I was contemplating whether or not to switch to the MFT program when we had a prayer night in our new small group. We spent time praying over each individual. Nobody verbalized prayer requests, we just prayed whatever came to mind. They didn’t know anything about my thoughts to possibly change paths, but after they prayed for me, one of the women said, “as we were praying for you, I kept seeing couples come to you for guidance, and they had hope that you could help them. People would come to you in chaos and leave in peace.” Hearing those words, everything shifted for me. My call to bring peace to those in chaos was made clear. That strong sense of call has remained.
After graduating with my master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, I was working as an associate therapist in private practice. In 2015 I was approached to see if I would be interested in being hired as part of a team to do youth ministry at our church. As I kept praying about it, I felt like God was calling me to say yes. It didn’t make sense because that meant I would have to leave my job as a therapist. One Sunday morning, as I was wrestling with this decision, Lisa Jackinsky preached a sermon about being guided by faith, not fear. It felt like she was speaking specifically to me, about my situation. I left my therapy job and began pastoring at FCC. Shortly after I took that leap of faith, the door opened for me to work as a therapist at our church counseling center in addition to doing pastoral ministry. Since then, I have experienced a deep sense of peace that I am in the right place living out my calling. Whether as a therapist or as a pastor, I love helping people move towards healing and growth, and helping them experience God’s deep love for them.
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 in a non-denominational church and was introduced to the Free Methodist Church towards the end of college when I began dating my husband Ben. Ben grew up with a father who was a Free Methodist pastor and a mother who was a Biblical Studies professor, both ordained elders in the Free Methodist Church. I was intrigued by the denomination. I began attending Foothill Community Church, the local church that my father-in-law pastored. The more I learned about the denomination, I realized that really I connected with Free Methodist values and theology. I love the origin story of the Free Methodist church, that it was founded on the principle of removing barriers for the poor. Here was a church that was not just teaching biblical values, but living them out. It was within the context of Free Methodism that I felt the call towards vocational ministry and ordination, and I am excited about continuing to live out that call within the Free Methodist Church.