Erica Final SmallJPEGErica Horn (Faith Feeds co-founder, board president) shares her journey leading her to Faith Feeds.

My parents were dedicated to raising their children properly. Thus, my brother and I were baptized, attended Sunday school, church, vacation Bible school, youth group, confirmation class, etc. Like most children, once away at college, we liberated ourselves from church (though Mom is pleased to report that both of us have now found our way back).

I don’t recall a specific thought process that led me to quit going to church—I may have just gotten out of the habit—but I don’t recall any significant church involvement for about 10 years. What brought me back was a series of spiritual retreats known as the Walk to Emmaus. The Walk is a 72-hour short course in Christianity, composed of 15 talks by lay and clergy on the themes of God’s grace, Christian discipleship and what it means to be the church. The 72 hours are wrapped in prayer and meditation, special times of worship and daily celebration of Holy Communion, and it is led by a team of people who have previously attended an Emmaus weekend.

The weekend gives participants, known as pilgrims, an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of their faith in God, to receive the transforming grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, to relate closely with other persons who are seeking a deeper faith, and to rededicate their lives as members of the body of Christ called to ministry in the world. This is exactly what the Walk did for me.

In addition to my own walk, which was in November 1993, I participated on the team of two walks: one in April 1994 and the other in July 1996. I met many fascinating women through Emmaus, at least two of which are very important in my life today.

The first, Alice, was my roommate on my original walk. When we were introducing ourselves on Thursday night people were saying what church they came from or what denomination. Alice’s answer was simply “Christian.” When we were praying in the prayer chapel, most of us were sitting in chairs, heads bowed; Alice was lying in the floor—prostrate. Alice was different that way: She didn’t conform. She saw things from a different, broader perspective. But the one thing I knew in my heart was that her faith and her belief in God were completely authentic!

The second woman is Beverly. Beverly and I served on an Emmaus team in April 1994. I easily remember Beverly’s warm smile, openness and the great depth of her relationship with God. While I don’t remember many of the specifics of the April Walk, I know the relationships I had with other team members and Alice and Beverly deepened.

Fast forward from April 1994 to July 11 of that year: I was at work – I am a lawyer – and was having one of those days at work where everything that could go wrong did go wrong. No surprise, it was a Monday. An important teleconference was scheduled with a client, but the phones weren’t working. We had to file a brief with the Kentucky Supreme Court and a draft needed to be sent overnight to the client. The partner on the job made changes to the brief until about 6 p.m., when the computer crashed, the copier crashed, and had any other office equipment been involved, I’m sure it would have crashed, too. I delivered the brief to FedEx at 11:45 p.m. (15 minutes before closing) and went home. I was exhausted—physically and emotionally—angry, empty and alone.

I called Beverly to replay the day for her. She asked if I would like for her to pray, and I said I would. As she was praying, I felt a great sense of relief, as if all my burdens were being lifted off my shoulders. Then I plainly heard God say, “Erica, I want you in ministry.” It was remarkable. It was one of the clearest and most peaceful moments of my life.

I shared with Beverly that God had just called me to ministry and her response was odd. She said, “I know.” Beverly’s affirmation made more real what I knew I had experienced. I was so excited and I wanted to share the news, so I called Alice. I told her that God had called me to the ministry; she also responded, “I know.” She then told me about her experience while meditating that morning. She had a vision of Jesus talking to me, and telling me, “Feed my sheep.”

Unbelievable? Yes, but real. After the Walks, I returned to church. About three years later, I found my way to Beaumont Presbyterian Church. Over the last 15 years, I’ve done lots of things at Beaumont: led Sunday school, served on the Session, led and participated in multiple prayer groups, helped with the Beaumont Learning Center, coordinated vacation Bible school, the Christmas Pageant, led the Youth Group, and assisted in starting the Community Garden. Nevertheless, throughout this time period I felt disobedient to God. I was still trying to figure out how to answer the call to be in ministry.

A couple of years ago I started re-reading my journals from the last 10-plus years. I began to realize I was in ministry. I had been responding to God’s call. I was amazed at how God had been at work in my life!

Looking again recently, I came across another entry that amazed me. On January 18, 2010, I wrote, “It is time to go forward to serve You in a more comprehensive way. Maybe that way involves creating a network of churches ….” Two weeks and two days later, on March 20, 2010, we started Faith Feeds.

I remember my first pick-up at Lexington Farmers’ Market on a Saturday in June 2010. I had cold chills as I loaded the produce into my car knowing that God had brought me to a new and literal way of “Feeding God’s sheep.”