Jenna Hite '21 grew and embraced community at Malone
Jenna Hite ‘21 didn’t really think she was going to go into ministry.
However, she trusted God on a path that led her right through Malone and to Grace United Methodist Church in Perrysburg, Ohio.
Heading into college, Hite recalls a lack of direction which made the school selection process less than ideal. But God had a plan for her.
“I was really passionless at the time, and now I see that the discernment of my calling wasn’t there. My youth pastor was talking about doing things that are uncomfortable, and how that can be what God asks you to do, and the most uncomfortable thing that I could think of was being a pastor, so I decided to go study the Bible,” said Hite. “I felt like it was the only thing worth studying. I look back now and see how God took away my other desires so I would step into this field, even though at the time I wasn’t particularly excited.”
With the path laid out before her, Hite chose Malone as the school for her in large part because of the array of views she would be exposed to and learn about.
“I loved that Malone was associated with Evangelical Friends, but all the professors are from different backgrounds within the Christian faith,” said Hite. “In the Bible department I was going to hear from different perspectives, and I wanted to expand my understanding of Christianity and its many expressions. Malone embraces the vast Christian Church, so I felt like I was going to get really well-rounded exposure.”
It was in this environment that Hite was able to grow, learn, worship, and embed herself in a community that valued its corporate identity and each person’s individual merits.
“The biggest thing I remember about Malone are the friendships I was able to make. They were the first real friends I had and the relationships were instant. I knew it was because of our shared faith,” said Hite.
And these meaningful connections were not just with Hite’s peers, but with her professors and mentors as well.
“The personal relationships that I was able to have with my professors were huge. They cared about my spiritual development as much as my education, because they all recognized that transformation comes from the spirit and not exclusively from head knowledge,” said Hite.
In the community of Malone, Hite was able to explore the serious and deep questions that she had about faith, life, and her future in ministry.
“Malone was a safe place to ask hard questions. The big question that I came to school with was discerning the role of women in ministry. I wanted to know the truth, not just what made me feel good,” said Hite. “In my Hermeneutics course we did a project on women in ministry, and in that course, with the support of my professors, I felt completely empowered to step into full time ministry. It was a clear sign that all these experts affirmed me as a woman teacher and leader. That was very important for me, and I wasn’t expecting it.”
Hite now works full time as the Director of Children and Family Ministries at Grace United Methodist Church. The affirming and supportive community of Malone has prepared her for the challenges of taking over a ministry.
“Right now I’m laying a lot of groundwork with adults and am realizing that in order to disciple kids I need a team that disciples the children- this isn’t work I can do by myself,” said Hite. “What’s helped has been developing the ability to be vulnerable with people I respect. Over time as a student I always felt challenged to be honest with my friends and professors who I highly respected.”
This attitude of openness and willingness to learn has proved invaluable when dealing with a room of thirty students.
“I love that the students are so pure. They can’t hide who they are and what they’re feeling. I’ve had them ask some big questions and just be funny and genuine,” said Hite.
While still figuring out the particulars of the ministry and call that God has given her, Hite looks back on her time at Malone as preparation for everything that comes to her day to day.