Rev. Jessica Merrill's Story
God's hand has always been on my life. He gave me a loving Christian family. I have been blessed to have parents and grandparents who loved each other, but more importantly they loved the Lord.
I was baptized when I was 3 weeks old at the congregational church my mother grew up in. My family came to Second Baptist Church in South Hadley when I was 11 years old. Second Baptist became my home church. I grew up there and was baptized a second time at sixteen, taught Sunday School, lead puppet ministry and guided bible study.
My mom Pat Merrill and my aunt Marge Morneau had been introduced to AB Women through some of the ladies of the church. They started to attend the retreats in Holyoke. My sister and I attended the AB Girls program. Bonnie Sestito called me her assistant as I was older. I helped with younger girls and bonded with Bonnie.
In college, I applied for the AB Women’s Undergraduate Scholarship. I was awarded it multiple years. While in college at Westfield State, Bonnie’s time as AB Girls Coordinator was coming to an end and she asked if I would take over. I accepted the position. Becoming the AB Girls Coordinator helped me learn skills I would need for the future God was planning for me. My first AB Girls outing as Coordinator was taking our AB Girls of Massachusetts to Green Lake. This trip I will never forget as we experienced violent storms, lost luggage, tornado sirens, and I got a sprained ankle to hobble through O’Hare airport as I was headed home. With all that it was fun and exciting and I will never forget. The girls and I shared our hopes, dreams and plans of what we wanted God to do in our lives. We focused on scripture and grew in the word. The girls that I worked with are now grown up. And God has done some amazing things in each of their lives.
He has also done some amazing things in my life too. After my time as AB Girls Coordinator, I became a preschool teacher. I always wanted to work in the public school system. To do that, you must pass the Massachusetts Teachers Exam. As of today, I have passed 3 of the four tests. The fourth test I had failed by one or two or even four points. Ten years ago, I stopped taking the test. It was God’s plan for me to go on a different adventure with Him. I traveled to China on a month-long mission trip with Ed Hobart. I went to teach English to the Chinese teachers. This opened up the door for me to think about doing more short-term mission opportunities. TABCOM had just created the School of Ministry. My aunt Marge asked me to call and inquire about the School of Ministry for my sister and my mom. I called talked to Karen Rucks, who I have known for twenty years. I thought this opportunity sounded interesting. I thought it would be great to have some more knowledge and experience that I could use on another mission trip. I decided to attend after some prayer and consideration. I completed the program three years later. I was not sure what God was calling me to do, until Michael Harvey spoke about being an Interim Pastor and Bi Vocational Pastor. I felt God tugging on my heart. It was a nine-year journey with God from the moment I decided to attend TABCOM School of Ministry to my ordination on November 3, 2019.
The journey with God never stops. He has led me to be a bi vocational pastor at Millers Mills Community Baptist Church in a small farming community in Upstate NY. I have had to learn to trust Him, let Him lead and know His timing is perfect. One must know God is in control even when He sends you to a new state during a pandemic.
Who knew back when I was the unofficial AB Girls assistant that it would start me on such a journey? I thank each of you AB Women for investing in me when I was just an AB Girl.
Rev. Jessica Merrill