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Steps to Discernment: Kelly’s Journey

Born in California, Kelly Aughenbaugh spent the majority of her life growing up in the small town of Wooster, Ohio. There, Kelly attended St. James.

“My whole faith journey has been made up of small steps. I remember sitting in the pews [at St. James, Wooster] coloring. I then began acolyting, then I was a lector, and then a Eucharistic minister,” said Kelly. “With each step, I took a deeper step in my faith.”

After graduating from the College of Wooster, Kelly served with the nonprofit City Year for two years. During her third year in Cleveland, Kelly also worked as the youth leader at Christ Church, Hudson and attended Trinity Cathedral. Her work with others confirmed her call to help people in some form or fashion.

In April 2011 Kelly was invited to the Diocese of Ohio’s Ministry Discernment Day by the Rev. Evelyn Manzella. From that day, Kelly entered into the discernment process.

“I needed to discern what I wanted to do with my life and how I wanted to help others. I spent the next couple of years praying and meeting with people around the diocese. I thought there might be red flags along the way, but there weren’t,” said Kelly. “The community really helped to encourage me. I never felt pressured. Just encouraged. I felt at peace. I felt this is where God is leading me.”

Kelly met with Bishop Hollingsworth in January 2012 to begin discussing her options. After a lot of conversation, thought, prayer, and a visitation to Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP), Kelly decided CDSP was the right fit for what she was seeking.

Based on Kelly’s demonstrated exceptional leadership for the future church, Bishop Hollingsworth nominated Kelly as a recipient of the Bishop's Scholar Program, a program he had initiated during his time serving as a trustee for CDSP. Due to his recommendation and commitment to hire Kelly for a minimum of three years post-graduation, Kelly was granted one of ten full tuition scholarships to attend seminary in the Fall of 2013. She was one of two of the first Bishop's Scholars.

“I am so thankful to have the cost of classes covered,” stated Kelly. “It was such a blessing to go to school in a new and different place and still be able to come home and have a job ready. Even though I will miss many people at CDSP, while being away I realized how much I appreciate being close to family and friends in Ohio.”

Kelly graduated in May and received The Right Rev. Richard Millard Prize for Excellence in Preaching. On May 28, she was ordained a Transitional Deacon at St. James, Wooster.

Kelly’s desire to help others has not changed over the course of her journey.

“I feel called to love, serve, and be in community with people. Talking with others about God, reading the Bible, and prayer are all things that God has grown in me to be passionate about. I feel called to serve God in this way; and to share God’s love, forgiveness and grace with others because I have been on the receiving end and want others to how much God cares for and loves them. When I see someone in need, I feel I connect with them on a different level – seeing them as a member of my family – and I care for them,” Kelly had stated during the discernment process.

Her driving force is very much the same today.

“I want to work ‘with’ the community. The base is just loving people and reminding them that God loves them and that they can have hope. And I want to encourage other people to do that in their life,” shared Kelly.
Kelly's next step in her journey will be participating in the new, upcoming curates program for the Diocese. She will be a curate at St. Peter’s, Lakewood as well as serving at St. John’s, Ohio City.

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