My name is Natalie Stadnick. I am a seventeen-year-old High School senior, and am planning to attend Agnes Scott College next fall. I will be majoring in Religion with an emphasis in Theological Studies.
I have served two terms as the North Georgia Conference Youth President, and in so doing I have been a member of the N.GA Conference Board of Laity as well as a member of various other Conference boards and committees in an ex officio capacity. This past summer I had the honor to live as a scholar with the Youth Theological Initiative’s Summer Academy, which is held at Candler School of Theology and funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc. Currently, I’m serving the N.GA Conference as a member of the Committee on Evangelism. Also, I am a member of the Order of Saint Luke.
I have lived in the same house my entire life, with my immediate family which consists of my mom Angela, my dad David, my younger sister Stephanie, and my dog Tobias (Toby for short). Also, I’ve been a member – either preparatory or confirmed – of Dunwoody United Methodist Church for all of my seventeen years!
Why do you blog?
Originally, I began blogging because I was bored. I started my blog in 2004, and have kept at it ever since. I googled “Methodist Blogs” on a whim, and stumbled across the Wesley Blog which was my portal into the Methoblogosphere. The sense of community that the blogosphere – particularly the Methoblogosphere – seemed to (and does) afford is wonderfully genuine and quite unique; I just had to become a part of it!
What has been your best blogging experience?
I have to say that my best blogging experience thus far stemmed from a post of mine entitled “Why I’ve Given Up On Youth Group”. (You can read it here http://firecracker8489.blogs.com/blog/2006/08/why_ive_given_u.html , if you’d like.) I wrote the post about my personal frustrations with the current model of youth group that is common in North American, Protestant churches.
Youth Specialties’ Pres. Mark Oestricher came across the post and highlighted it in his high-traffic blog (ysmarko.com). Kenda Creasy Dean (Prof. of Youth and Culture at Princeton Sem.) and Tony Jones (a leader in the Emergent Church) also came across it and commented!
The kicker though is that, because of/through this post, Mark Oestricher offered me a free registration at The National Youth Workers Convention. Of course, I took him up on that offer! Kenda Dean, Tony Jones, and many other people whom I would have never otherwise met who had read my post, were at the Convention. I got to meet and connect with these folks! It was very very cool, even surreal!
What would be your main advice to a novice blogger?
Be honest. And just to do it. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect.
When you’re starting out, don’t be concerned with consciously writing posts aimed at a specific audience. I believe authenticity is what draws people into reading others’ blogs, and often when one aims posts at specified audiences that sense of authenticity is lost.
If you only had time to read three blogs a day, what would they be?
The list would definitely differ each day! Though, Real Live Preacher (reallivepreacher.com) and QuestingParson (questingparson.com) would be in the running for sure.
Who are your spiritual heroes?
The famous ones: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dorothy Day, and Henri Nouwen among many others.
The famous-in-my-book ones: Doug Orr, David Melton, and Carolyn Davis among many others.
What are you reading at the moment?
Currently, I’m reading “Preaching” by Fred Craddock, “Bread of Angels” by Barbara Brown Taylor, and “These High Green Hills” by Jan Karon.
What is your favorite hymn and why?
I have several favorite hymns; among them are ‘Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing’, ‘Here I Am Lord’, ‘How Great Thou Art’, and ‘The Church’s One Foundation’. ‘Here I Am Lord’ probably has the most interesting explanation as to why it’s on the favorite list.
In 2002, I attended Annual Conference for the first time in order to see my then-youth minister’s -- who’s now a Navy chaplain -- ordination service. After all of the candidates for elder and deacon and the probationers had been ordained, the hymn ‘Here I Am Lord’ was sung. It was the first time I had ever heard it.
There have been several moments in my life in which my own “call” to ordained ministry has become almost palpable to me. That moment, in which I was singing ‘Here I Am Lord’ after watching the first ordination service I had ever seen, was one of those moments. Some of the deepest joy I have ever felt, I felt that night while singing this hymn.
Can you name a major moral, political, or intellectual issue on which you've changed your mind?
Yes, I can name one. Am I choosing to? No. ; )
What philosophical thesis do you think is most important to combat?
Hmm… That’s a tough question! I think, for me, it’s a tie between the notion of Hegelian perfectibility and Egoism. Also, cultural relativism is something that I believe needs combating although it’s more of a sociological thesis than a philosophical thesis!
If you could effect one major change in the governing of your country, what would it be?
I would allow line-item vetoes in order to counteract the pork barrel spending that is so rampant in today’s legislature.
If you could effect one major policy change in the United Methodist Church, what would it be?
I would make the ordination process much “friendlier” to young, first-career clergy.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life?
Always try to remember that even when you don’t feel like you can’t ‘hold on to God’ any longer, God will still be ‘holding on to you’.
What, if anything, do you worry about?
I worry about the future of the world, the future of the United Methodist Church, nuclear bombs, how to pay for college, my own hypocrisy, how much responsibility I have for my governments action or inaction, public opinion of young people, and how many licks it really takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop among other things.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything that you'd do differently?
I can’t say that there really is anything that I’d do differently, other than tell people whom I love that I love them while I still had the chance to.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do now)?
No idea… Hana, Hawaii perhaps?
What do you like doing in your spare time?
I like to read, eat meals with friends, play the cello, practice karate, draw – especially with charcoal – and, of course, BLOG!
What is your most treasured possession?
If I had to name one it would be my collection of letters of encouragement that different people have written me over the years. My grandmother’s crucifix from her childhood in Nazi Germany would be high on the list as well.
What talent would you most like to have?
I wouldn’t mind being able to sing!
If you could have any three guests, past or present to dinner, who would they be?
I couldn’t pick just three. I’m sure though that the likes of Barbara Brown Taylor, Mother Teresa, John Wesley, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer would all be invited!