Joel Elliott Mooneyhan
Updated: Sep 23, 2020
Thirty-six went like a blur, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t eventful. I fell back in love with photography in a big way. I wrote an honest-to-God hymn. I helped the company I work for expand into Canada; that felt like an accomplishment. I got to share in the celebrations of several friends who got married, and my oldest and best friend and his wife welcomed their first child into the world just a few weeks ago.
I still talk to my parents every day, and have spent time recording the various events and stories in their lives together. It’s been awesome to hear, as an adult, about the history of the two people who raised me. I still get called by my childhood nicknames from both of my sisters and my brother. My nieces and nephews are all in various stages of growing up, and I am prouder of each of them for who they are becoming every day.
Stay close to your families, y’all.
My church spent the first part of 2019 in the process of purchasing our first permanent location, the entire month of May renovating it, and this whole Summer growing into it. There are a few moments in my life where I can say that Christ has been at work in tangible, observable ways. That has been one of them. Another one was even more recent than that.
As many of you know, and as some of you are about to find out, I have felt a call into ministry for as long as I can remember. I began pursuing that call right out of high school, throughout college, and into seminary, where I got my Masters in Divinity. Since I was 18, I have worked at four different churches; I’ve been able to use artwork as ministry in ways that still blow my mind. I’ve been a part of some incredible experiences with my brothers and sisters in Christ. And in the past 10 years, while working outside the church, I have been able to live out my call in ways that I’d never have been able to working within it.
All of this is to say nothing of the congregation I found in Atlanta Christian Church, and the incredible experiences I’ve had there as that community welcomed me in, allowed me to take part, and affirmed my call to ministry.
And yet, I have always felt like there as more I am called to do; it has been a struggle. And then in August, three years to the day of my ordination, I was offered a role on staff with my home church. In the weeks that followed, I was encouraged and supported both by my friends at church and my friends at work, as we all worked together to see what this might look like.
This thirty-seventh year of my life begins immediately with a new leg on a life-long journey, laying the groundwork for a new role in my home church, to come on staff at the beginning of 2020. A lot of things converged to get me to this place, and I am excited to see where it will lead as I turn another year over in my life. I am facing some great challenges, but standing beside me is an even greater Savior—as faithful as he has been, I am confident he will continue to be.
So onward I go, with the help of God and the love and support of so many of you. Thirty-seven will be the best yet.
Y’all take care and be good to each other,
September 25, 2019
On my birthday every year, I reflect on the previous year and what it has meant to me. If you'd like to read more, then take a look at my musings when I turned thirty-six and thirty-five.