It may not be a trend, but certainly, more XA females are getting ordained, and that is exciting and important in reaching our collegiate mission field with female enrollment in college at an all-time high. Since 2010, the number of female career campus missionaries and missionary associates in XA continued to increase each academic year, and in 2021, female leadership in XA surpassed males. XA has always embraced women in ministry and leadership. I asked several XA females what led them to get ordination, and how does XA ministry work for them. I talked to so many, and they were all so kind to respond, but there’s only room for 5 vignettes this time. Watch for more females telling their stories next time.
Katie Moran – James Madison University
The Potomac Network AG ordained Katie May 2020. She completed a CMIT in 2008-09, and served at the University of Virginia for 11 years. In 2019, she and her husband, Josh, moved to Harrisonburg, VA. to pioneer XA at James Madison University and they continue there today. Katie had been credentialed at the certified level for 10 years when the network superintendent at the time spoke at a credentialed women’s breakfast she was attending. He cast vision for continuing our education, our commitment to the movement, and strengthening our endorsement by the AG, by pursuing ordination. This was extremely influential for me. I decided then to pursue licensing and ordination as soon as possible and have been an advocate for others to do the same. Along with her husband, she is XA co-director at JMU, serving primarily by discipling the staff team, student leaders, and students. She preaches regularly at the large group meetings, teaches at student leadership meetings, and trains CMITs in classes XA offers. Katie reveals, “Chi Alpha has been a place of transformative relationships for me: from my early days as a student being discipled for the first time, through transitions such as the internship, staff team, pioneering to more personal ones such as marriage and parenthood. Chi Alpha is a great place to see the Kingdom of God at work; transforming individuals within the context of community. . . . God continuously transforms us to reflect God’s image and do the work we were created for in this place where Heaven and Earth come together by God. “
Melissa Nguyen – Central Washington University
The Northwest Network AG ordained Melissa in 2021. She has served for 11 years on staff at Central Washington University, Ellensburg. She completed a CMIT at Western Washington University in Bellingham as preparation for campus ministry. She and her husband, Tony, watched their first ordination service at the NW Network Conference many years ago and decided it would be so cool to do that service together. “Between pressing ministry seasons and having kids and full plates it took us a few more years than we intended to complete all the steps for ordination, but we were happy to complete it together and get to walk together in ordination in April 2021.” Melissa explained, “Our main reasons for pursuing ordination (and doing so together) seemed like a meaningful step to show our lifelong commitment to ministry and to serving as AG ministers. We enjoyed the educational requirements and thought it was a nice step to show our network that we’re committed for the long haul.” Melissa preaches regularly in the large group services. She leads a core group, mentors small group leaders, and pre-engagements couples, mobilizes students for missions, assists with the CMIT program along with administrative roles. She reminds us, and identifies with other spouses and parents in saying, “Besides my full-time ministry, she and her husband are raising two preschoolers – XA missionary kids.”
Alicia Youngblood – Texas Christian University
The North Texas District AG ordained Alicia in 2021. She has served as co-director of XA with her husband, Andrew, at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX, for 9 years. Alicia candidly said, “I initially pursued certification to get a better paycheck as I came on staff full time and quit my job. Then, I pursued licensing as we went through national appointment in 2016. In the last few years, my convictions around women in ministry and the need for women representation has grown, so I decided to go ahead and get ordained since I was in a denomination that valued women and allowed me to do so.” Serving as a campus minister at TCU allows her to disciple female leaders, help her husband manage the leadership team, teach leadership classes, preach to the entire campus group several times per year, and handle the administrative side of campus ministries. Alicia says she loves being a part of XA. “It has empowered me to be a woman in leadership and it is the only paradigm I have for ministry. Because of working side by side with my husband, I have been given awesome opportunities to lead, to minister, and to be a part of God’s plan to reach young adults with the message of Jesus.”
Rachel Yokers – University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
The Wisconsin/Northern Michigan AG Network ordained Rachel in 2021. She started off her journey with XA at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh as a freshman in 2008; the very year that XA launched on campus. She completed a CMIT at Western Washington University from 2013-2014, and was invited to serve on staff at UWO in 2014 with the campus minister, Josh Ernst. When Josh assumed the position as district director of W/NM in 2016, Rachel became the director of XA at UWO. Rachel says her reason for pursuing ordination. “I pursued ordination because of the example it sets to my female students and the leadership is shows to my male students; to boldly proclaim that God can call anyone into vocational ministry and leadership. It also felt like the next right thing Jesus was asking me to do for myself and for Him.” Her ministry at XA at UWO includes preaching at services, leading a small group, mentoring students and staff, and working with “Give-a-Year” students, and occasionally speaks at women’s conferences. She also has the unique responsibility serving as a chaplain with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department. Rachel says, “XA was the place where Jesus took hold of my heart and transformed my life. There’s no other way to put it; the Lord used Chi Alpha to raise me, disciple me, to train me to be the woman I am today. And I am forever grateful.”
Crystal Burkhart – University of Alaska Fairbanks
The Alaska Ministry Network AG ordained Crystal in 2020. She serves at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She and her husband, Paul, have been there 8 years. She felt compelled by God to pursue ordination. She teaches, preaches, and leads small groups, and directs the marketplace missions internship. She also serves on the national XA Guiding Coalition, and as presbyter for the Alaska Ministry Network. She explains, “After serving as world missionaries for almost a decade in Southeast Asia, God called my husband and I at a World Missions Summit to transition from overseas to serve and pioneer XA at the UA Fairbanks.” She and her husband completed an internship at Sam Houston State University XA and then took a team of 8 missionaries to pioneer in Fairbanks. “Every step of the way we have felt encouraged, welcomed, and supported by the XA nation and feel grateful to serve in this movement.”
For a history of women in leadership in the AGs, check out– https://ag.org/Beliefs/Position-Papers/the-role-of-women-in-ministry. Watch for more ordained females in the next two DennisGaylor.com web blogs, May and June 2022.