On a Sunday morning in October 2018, Trevecca alumnus Jake Beard ('19) made the drive from Trevecca's campus to Manchester, Tenn., where he preached his first sermon at Estill Spring Church of the Nazarene. Trevecca alumnus Matt Hastings ('98) serves as the lead pastor of the church.
It was during that service, preaching behind the pulpit, that Beard says it became clear that God had called him to serve there.
"After that first sermon, I knew that I could call this place home," the recent grad recalled.
Nearly a year later, Beard is now working full-time as the church's youth pastor, leading and pastoring students in the church from seventh to 12th grade.
A native of South Florida, Beard's journey to ministry began years before that sermon at Estill Spring Church of the Nazarene. During his freshman year of high school, Beard says he felt a deep sense that God had called him into ministry.
"Ever since that year, it was seeing what God has for me, and over time, God let me know He wanted me to shepherd young people and help them find their place in the story of God," Beard said.
That calling to ministry led Beard to Trevecca in 2015 as a freshman and shaped his decision to pursue a bachelor’s degree in religion.
Throughout his four years at Trevecca, Beard worked in student leadership roles, became active in local churches, served as a student chaplain, all while working part-time in ministry. During his four years on the Hill, Beard says his calling to ministry was nourished and nurtured. Faculty and staff poured into him, and Beard took advantage of opportunities to invest and serve others.
"Over the course of my years at Trevecca, it was a place I could grow and be myself," Beard said. "Trevecca is a place for everybody, and I felt that the first day I came onto campus."
According to Dr. Tim Green, dean of Trevecca’s Millard Reed School of Theology and Christian leadership, Beard displayed the kinds of active engagement the religion department strives to build in its students.
"Jake demonstrated that beautiful blend of learning how to do ministry while engaging in ministry," said Tim Green, dean of Trevecca's Millard Reed School of Theology and Christian Ministry. "He models what we desire the most of our students and exemplifies that you can be a good student, actively engaged in a local church and take on student leadership roles."
With a well-equipped faculty and curriculum, Trevecca's School of Theology and Christian Ministry continues to produce servant leaders like Beard who go out and share the gospel across the globe.
"The faculty and the curriculum in our religion department are demonstrated in people like Jake," Green said. "Those persons can be replicated all over the world and find places of service in leadership in the church."
Settling into his first few months in ministry, Beard says his calling to minister to young people is evident.
"I think God created me with a heart that loves people and cares for people," he said. "I've always had such a passion for people, and it's been evident in my ministry and in my calling."