In the March 29th worship service at The Upper Room Chapel, Kathryn Kimball (curator, manager, and worship coordinator of the chapel and museum) spoke about God’s calling. As a young girl in Iowa, swinging under a tree in her yard, she daydreamed about what she would like to be when she grew up. “I’d like to sing in a choir. I want to be an opera singer. It’d be fun to sing with a symphony,” she mused. As she continued to swing, she also imagined herself working with art and cleaning silver.
Little did Kathryn know then that all of these daydreams would come true. After graduating from college and moving to Nashville, she enrolled at Scarritt College as a church music major. She also worked part-time as a hostess at The Upper Room chapel. As part of her music education, she had the opportunity to sing opera music, sing in a large choir, and sing at her church for concerts accompanied by players from the symphony. At The Upper Room, in addition to other duties, she found herself restoring and cleaning art and polishing.
As hostess at The Upper Room, Kathryn encountered many people from across the United States and even other countries. Her role was to greet visitors and take them on a tour of the chapel. Kathryn felt God’s calling as she met the variety of visitors. She enjoyed watching them as many of them gazed at the beautiful stained glass World Christian Fellowship window. Then they turned around and saw the centerpiece of the chapel, a huge wood carving reproduction of Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper. Kathryn took special joy in watching the expressions of awe as visitors glimpsed the wood carving.
One day a woman who was visiting smiled at her and said, “God loves you, I love you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Then the woman hugged her; Kathryn was a little surprised but hugged her back. Interestingly, she later discovered that this woman was the mother of Edna Vaughan, Kathryn’s good friend who works in The Upper Room program department.
Kathryn mentioned that someone in the United Methodist Men visited chapel one day not long ago, and he gave her a marble as he said, “God loves you, I love you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” The man belonged to a ministry at his church called the Marble Movers. They hand out marbles to people to remind them that God loves them.
At the end of the chapel service, Kathryn announced, “We are going to have a reverse offering today.” As a few employees came forward with baskets, she continued: “Please take a marble for yourself and for someone else. Give a marble to remind someone that God loves them.”
Since March is Women’s History Month, the order of worship recognized female employees who have been at The Upper Room for more than 20 years. Twenty names appeared on that list.
Four employees were quoted in the bulletin, reflecting on their calls. Alma Swinney, our receptionist, said, “In August I will have been here for 35 years. I came for a job in the mail department. I stayed because I really liked it. [The Upper Room] has become my family. I love to meet and greet the people as they come in.”
Theresa Santillan, who has worked at Discipleship Ministries and The Upper Room for 48 years, said, “I don’t believe I would be here except for receiving an invitation to apply for a bilingual position. I’m not sure if that qualifies as ‘being called.’ But, in a way I did step out on faith because I don’t think I would have left my home state otherwise. … As for serving God daily, I think I see that as showing up. Showing up physically, emotionally, spiritually and doing your work, staying engaged, using your gifts to the best of your ability.”
Nancy Gardner reflected: “I have been serving in ministry for 34 years. I came to The Upper Room in the Cashier’s Department during the peak season for 6 weeks as a temporary employee. Ms. Gertrude saw my potential and hired me in 4 weeks. I have been here serving God and his people ever since. I worked in subscriptions, Discipleship Resources, Discipleship Ministries administration office, Leadership Ministries, Finance, and currently in the CFO/Treasurer’s office.”
Michelle Cuccia, accompanist for the chapel service, remarked, “I started playing piano when I was 8, clarinet at 12, trumpet at 14, and cello at 15. I still play the trumpet. I guess I’ve played for about 47 years now. I was called to play in churches in 1999.”
Under the testimonies about their calls, Kathryn posed these questions for chapel attendees to reflect on: When were you called? How do you live out your call?
These are worthy questions for every Christian to consider. It’s also a great idea to think about how we can be “Marble Movers”—showing the love of God to everyone we meet.
Come Join Us!
Chapel services take place in The Upper Room chapel every Wednesday from 8:30–9:00 a.m. These worship services are open to the public.
If you’re in Nashville, stop by the chapel service, then linger for a while in the Christian art museum—which features seasonal exhibits of more than 70 Ukrainian Easter eggs and over 130 nativity scenes from around the world. Stop by the gift shop, where you can purchase books, jewelry, mugs, and all sorts of interesting items. All of this is available to you with free parking and a suggested donation of $5.00.