By Ronni Scott
In the spring of 2000, Senior Chief Petty Officer Arlindall Burks retired from the U.S. Navy, having been carried around the world and dropped off at Jacksonville. The native from Indiana became a guidance counselor at Florida Community College, planned a teaching career and worked with youth at Isle of Faith United Methodist Church.
“I wanted to teach,” she said. “I was fine; minding my business when I sensed a call in my spirit, there’s something more I want you to do.”
In the summer of 2011, Reverend Arlindall Burks became Associate Pastor at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, Brandon. Burks shares her sailor-turned-minister story.
“I stubbornly pursued a teaching career, thinking God had it wrong,” Burks explained. “Every paper I submitted came back for correction or addition. Frustrated, I enrolled at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta.”
“I had no ‘burning bush’ experiences,” she said. “Rather, a series of incidents got my attention: A news report of a child abused by the pastor who had adopted her; friends suggesting I go into ministry; the feeling that I had something to offer. Again, I heard, ‘there’s something more I want you to do.’”
During winter of 2001, one tiny person bridged the path from retirement to ministry: Burks held her first grandson.
“Looking into that face, I could no longer disregard what God was calling me to do. This child—children—have a right to live in a world of grace, love, kindness.”
Burks stepped out in faith. She had always been in ministry. Reared with a keen sense of social justice by a mother who invited hungry strangers to her table, steeped in an ethos of active involvement, Burks was ideal for United Methodist ministry.
“Military experience prepared me for cross-cultural ministry. I’m incredibly grateful to be doing this work. I still wonder why God chose me…when He knows me,” Burks said. “Visiting South Africa was a reckoning. Roots, heritage, values, race, gender—all things that are me—boiled down to one thing: I’m an American citizen, accountable to God.”
Edmund Burke said, “Evil flourishes when good people do nothing.” Burks countered, “I say evil wins when God’s people do nothing.”
In the fall of this year, Dr. Robert Gibbs noted, “Arlinda has a wonderful presence and gifts that will enhance our ministry. She’s genuine and compassionate. St. Andrew’s is blessed to have her.”
St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church is located at 3315 Bryan Rd. in Brandon. For more information, call 689-6849 or visit www.standrewsbrandon.org.