by Nancy Cordes
To paraphrase LaTrell, she believes that between the ages of 18 and 35, people are searching to find out what they truly believe, find their authentic self (that may lie below their consciousness) and understand what kind of life style has meaning for them. Rev. LaTrell said “I want to co-journey with them on this very important quest.” LaTrells’ passion is to help people discover who they are, who God is to them, and help them establish a “reliable compass” to navigate through the world they live in.
LaTrell has a dual position of overseeing youth (6th-12th grade) and adults 18-35 years old. Her biggest strength is creativity, finding new ways and methods to engage youth and young adults in finding meaning, understanding and connection to others. This process or journey can be both enjoyable and spur self-growth toward understanding what place God has in their lives. She admitted she likes to do dramatic readings and loves to read Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham for her young nephew. Rev. LaTrell sees drama as a useful tool to help others gain new insight and understanding to the meaning of scripture texts.
I asked her when she knew she had a calling to the ministry. LaTrell said when she was about 15, she had a drive to investigate and understand the bible, many times posing questions her parents could not answer. LaTrell’s mother use to buy her biblical commentaries to help fill in the gaps. LaTrell’s mother was a member of the CME (Christian Methodist Episcopal) Church and her father was a member of the Baptist Church. Rev. LaTrell says her church upbringing incorporated a conservative and fundamental view of the bible.
Her first year at the seminary was confusing and discomforting because it debunked many things she had been taught growing up. Rev. LaTrell said it was if the bible that she knew was “being torn apart”. However, during her second year in seminary, the bible she knew came together in a new way. A way that was more progressive, loving and inclusive of other people who did not fit into the old church paradigm. It was as if her old concepts of God, church and sin had to be deconstructed in order to make way for a new more inclusive, loving paradigm of God and church. It made me think of the scripture about not putting new wine into old wine skins because the old wine skin would tear because of the fermentation process the new wine would have to go through.
Throughout her young adult years she felt an inner drive to learn more about God which culminated in her belief that God was calling her to the Ministry. She attended the AME church when she was in the seminary but later felt she needed to leave the AME church because it no longer fit her understanding of God and the bible as she had come to know it. Rev. LaTrell had attended a conference put on by the United Church of Christ and felt like this was a church that fit her new understanding of God’s inclusive love for everyone regardless of race, creed or sexual orientation. She shared a story about having worked in a soup kitchen and met a homeless man that had a transforming affect on her. She said she went home and felt like she had met God in this homeless man.
LaTrell feels that love and acceptance goes a long way to bring about healing and growth. Those two elements help someone to begin the process of transformation towards becoming the person God created them to be.