Uncomfortable and Messy Faith

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Hiking in Colombia

“The hardest and most rewarding part of my job is the never-ending learning curve of faith and working with people,” says Marta Castillo, Lead Minister for Intercultural Formation for Franconia Conference. “I love that faith is a journey. We never stop learning, and there are times when our faith is stretched and formed in ways that are uncomfortable and messy. I am a relational person and I love being with, learning from, and working with all kinds of people. Yet I always feel like I am just learning how to relate and work graciously with people from different cultures and backgrounds in ways that are wise and Spirit-led,” she elaborates.

Marta serves as the Lead Minister for four churches (Centro de Alabanza, Nations Worship Center, Garden Chapel, and Mennonite Bible Fellowship) and she is also part of the core group of the Intercultural Team. 

Intercultural encounter has been a part of Marta’s life for as long as she can remember. She was born in Malaysia, and grew up in Vietnam and Indonesia as the daughter of missionary parents, returning to live in the United States when she was 16 years old. Over time, she learned to accept and adapt to the culture of the United States.  

Julio and Marta Castillo

After college and study in the area of elementary and early childhood education, Marta worked for nearly a decade as a teacher and child care center director in various locations. When she moved to Norristown, she also began working part-time at Nueva Vida Norristown New Life (NVNNL) as a church secretary. It was at the church she met and married a man from Colombia, Julio Castillo, and over the last 24 years has been learning and speaking Spanish. Her growing involvement in ministry at NVNNL also moved her gradually into her current pastoral calling. She adds, “My grandfather and father were both pastors and I am happy to be the first woman pastor in my extended family.”

“I love the natural connections with brothers and sisters from other cultures in my work. I continue to be stretched and learn from everyone,” Marta shares. She attended Nueva Vida Norristown New Life for 23 years and served as an Associate Pastor on the pastoral team for 10 of those years until 2017.    

Currently Marta also serves as the interim pastor of Wellspring Church of Skippack, a gem of a congregation that lost their pastor, Mike Meneses, suddenly at the end of 2018. She plans to stay in the position until they are able to call another pastor. She also works in Bilingual Parent Engagement for Norristown Area School District.

Marta with sons Andres & Daniel

Describing her work for the Conference, Marta says each day is different. She connects regularly with pastors by phone or in person, preaches at different churches, meets with leadership groups, plans the intercultural women’s gathering and other intercultural events, helps with pastoral search processes, works at conflict mediation, travels and joins calls to represent the Conference at events and gatherings, writes articles, uses her Spanish and limited Indonesian, collaborates with team members, and attends staff meetings and other meetings.

Marta’s life priorities include time with God, caring for her home and her husband, being a present mother to her sons, Christian, Andres, and Daniel (and granddaughter, Isabel).  In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading, swimming and gardening.