Adventures in Ministry, Fundraising, and Humility

Who am I? and Why am I asking you for money, and fundraising?

I am the loving wife of a United States Coast Guard service member, Will Dugger.

I am the devoted mother of, one soon to be 2 years old little girl.

I am a candidate to the Holy orders of Priesthood in the Episcopal Church. I am a wife and mother called to ordained ministry to increase the faith, hope and love of Christ in the world. I was lost, but now am found and I want to share the Good News, and healing, that I found in college at Purdue University’s Wesley Foundation, to the whole world.

My call to ministry:

My call to ministry began in the wonderful Christian Formation process at Purdue University’s Wesley Foundation. After a turbulent childhood, I arrived at Purdue University a deeply wounded person. I was invited to attend an event at Wesley Foundation, and over the next 4 years, they became the tangible arms of God. They fully embraced me, even through my weird purple hair phase. Pastors Glen and Lana Robyne patiently answered my questions, not easy ones either, but things like the problem of evil and suffering in the world, and perceived Biblical inconsistencies.

Over 4 years, I was taught, for the first time, both in word and deed what it meant to be a Christian. I was baptized my Junior year. My senior year of college, I began attending a group that explored a “Call to Ministry.” Over a series of mission trips, retreats, and Wednesday night devotions that I led, I realized God wanted to use me to be a means of healing and reconciliation to wounded and broken people. The time was not yet ripe for me to enter into ministry, however, and I sensed a “Wait upon the Lord.”

So, when I graduated from Purdue in 2007, I was somewhat at loose ends, and deeply nervous. As it turns out there was a reason for my time of wait. My very first call to ministry, was my own broken and wounded family. My family, in very brief, had been torn apart by separations, fighting, mental illness, neglect and abuse. Yet, the beginning seeds of reconciliation had already been planted. Shortly after our first family Christmas in years, my mother was hospitalized. In January 2008, my mother was diagnosed with terminal, Pancreatic Cancer. She died that April. In so short a time, a lot goes through a family system. I was able to share the peace of Christ that I found at Wesley Foundation, and had continued finding at Church of the Messiah, in Winter Garden, FL. My mother and I had many talks about God, leading up to her final days. She died reconciled to God. She had left over Scientific doubts and personal turmoil. In her final days she received last rites from Father Richard Borden. He and Messiah’s youth minister, at the time, Anne Matthew’s came and ministered to my family. My father was able to talk to a priest for hours. I cannot say exactly what happened, except the work of God. My mother’s death became the catalyst for a time of turmoil, but also a time of healing. My sister found faith and was baptized in July of 2009, and my Dad began attending church with me whenever he was in town.

My husband, Will Dugger and I also met during this time of waiting, that wasn’t really waiting at all. He and his family, have incredible devotion to God, and the Episcopal Church. They walked alongside my family through my mother’s dying, and embraced us with the more love and compassion than I could have ever expected or imagined. We were married April 18th, 2009, just shy of one year after my mother’s passing.

The time of waiting, that wasn’t waiting at all, but was ministry to, in and for my family had come to a close, and I sensed God telling me, “OK, now!” I began to work with Father Tom, of Church of the Messiah to discern what a calling to ministry meant for me. The surprising answer was priesthood!

I entered the process of discernment in the Episcopal Church, and was affirmed and uplifted. I began seminary at Asbury Theological Seminary, in the Fall of 2010. For my first two years I had almost a full scholarship, and was working at Church of the Messiah as well, first as an intern, and then as Children’s Minister. Into every well laid out plan, a little turmoil inevitably ensues. My plan to graduate with my Masters in Divinity in 3 years, and become ordained was thrown off. God’s timeline included the birth of our wonderful daughter in 2012. My husband entered the military in 2012 as well. Up until now, our household had required 2 incomes. He entered the military, making a great sacrifice, so that we would have the economic freedom for me to “just” attend seminary full time, and stay home with our daughter. Thus my “3 year plan” became a 4 ½ year adventure. Part of balancing the calls of wife (and a military wife at that), mother, and priesthood meant that our original plan, me transferring for my final year of seminary at an Episcopal, had to be rethought.

By the graciousness of my Bishop Greg Brewer, I was allowed to complete my M.Div. at Asbury Theological Seminary, and conduct my Anglican Year of studies as a distance student at Nashotah.

So where do you come in?

Much of my scholarships and diocesan support are set up on the assumption that you will complete your studies in three years and remain a full time student year round, including summers and January term.

I chose to take the Summer I gave birth off. I spent it getting to know this wonderful daughter the Lord knit together in my womb, and reweaving our family after my husband’s boot camp experience. This time off resulted in my school support dropping by almost $10K. We soldiered on, making up the deficit with loans.

Now as I approach the end of my seminary career, I need your support. Because I’m dual enrolled at Asbury to finish my Master’s in Divinity this summer, and Nashotah House, to do my Anglican Studies, I’m maxed out on the amount of federal loans I can take out in a year, and there is still a shortfall. Hence, the fundraising.

God is not telling me to wait, however. Through the prayers and discernment of my Bishop, Father Tom, Father Bob with whom I’ve served as an intern at St. Benedict’s in South Florida, where my husband is stationed, I’ve sensed God’s call to complete the work he has begun in me. This sprint to the finish is a financial challenge, but God’s timing is perfect. The diocese has stepped up their support of me by $3500.

I have never before asked for financial support from my congregation and my greater church family, but I need to now. Will you be instrumental in completing the good work that God has begun in my life? First and foremost, PRAY! Not everyone is called to give, but EVERYONE can pray! Pray that the means to cover the finances will be provided.

If in your prayers you discern God calling you to part of His means for my financial provision, then please GIVE with a cheerful heart. You can do so by going to this website, http://www.gofundme.com/funding-seminary

I hope that by hearing my story your faith that Christ is Risen! and at work in the world has been strengthened.

God Bless you,

2217_696464881768_7561_nTracy (Bridge)Dugger

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