For Elyse Garverick, “family” always included her church family. Growing up as a pastor’s kid at Northridge Wesleyan Church in Dayton, Ohio, church was home and the congregation was family. Now as an adult, Garverick has again found her family at church.

“Growing up in the church was such a positive experience for my brothers and me. The congregation treated us like family. They loved us really well and it was foundational for me,” Garverick said.

As a teenager, Garverick started to sense the call to ministry in her life. Youth camps and influential leaders in the church nurtured her call to ministry. Eventually, she decided to attend Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) as a ministerial student to pursue her calling.

Garverick completed her bachelor’s degree at IWU in Christian ministries and biblical literature in 2015. In 2017, she completed her master’s degree in practical theology in the Kern Ministry Program. Her experiences at IWU helped shape the way she views ministry and encouraged her to look more creatively at the way ministry takes place.

“Elaine Bernius and Dave Ward were hugely instrumental in my time at IWU. They led me in being a person who had grace for myself,” Garverick said, referring to two of her IWU professors.

“On top of that, the master’s program at IWU did a really good job at helping us ask the more creative questions about ministry. It challenged me to think about how ministry can be changed to be more effective and life giving to not only the people we are serving but also to those who are serving,” she said.

Garverick is currently putting that creativity to work in ministry as the discipleship and assistant pastor at Bridge Community Church in Logansport, Indiana. The multiethnic, multilingual congregation has the goal of connecting with people in their community to create a movement of welcome within their city.

One of the creative ways Garverick has the opportunity to connect with people in the community is through the Intersection Coffee Shop, which she manages as a part of her role within the church. The coffee shop is housed within the walls of the church and is open to the community throughout the week.

The coffee shop has become a means to minister through a different venue and brings people into the church who otherwise would not come close. It provides a space of ministry where there is no structure or agenda, but only casual conversations that open up the opportunity for relationships to connect people.

“Working in the coffee shop is like being a barber in the aspect of it being an open space where people are willing to share their stories. People will tell you about anything while you make them a drink — about their health, their family, we get it all. I enjoy the opportunity to take off my ‘pastor’s hat’ and meet people exactly where they are. On the flipside, I get to share my life with them too. It’s very much a ‘sharing of life’ space,” Garverick said.

The multiethnic nature of the church also encourages Garverick to think up ways to minister creatively. Since one-third of the population in Logansport is Hispanic, it is essential that the church employ creative ministry approaches in order to reach across cultural boundaries. One of the ways they do this is through the Immigrant Connection Legal Office that provides low-cost legal services for those navigating the immigration system.

Garverick looks forward to her future at Bridge Community Church and the continuous opportunities to share life with those around her.

“It is such a gift to minister in a church like this. To be here and to experience a larger view of the kingdom of God with many cultures is exciting for me. I am continually grateful not only to serve here, but to be a part of a family,” Garverick said.