The power of showing up

Liz Schauer | May 25, 2022

Amy Gowans has attended Willow South Barrington and Chicago for a long time, regularly volunteering with small groups, operations, guest experience, pastoral care, compassion & justice, and at special events. She goes out of her way to go the extra mile to serve with a joyful heart, blessing the church and community. She began volunteering to meet new people and give back, but quickly discovered how God would use her open and willing heart to grow her faith, increase her reliance on the Spirit, and use her to impact the lives of others.

Check out this Q&A with Amy to learn more of her serving story.

When did you first start coming to Willow Chicago? What led you there?

I started attending 9 1/2 years ago after we became empty nesters. Prior to that, we attended South Barrington for 18+ years.

How did you first get connected?

I didn’t know anyone in the city so church was my go to. I began serving immediately and felt at home with the other volunteers and made incredible friendships.

What’s your most memorable serving experience? 

As a response pastor for 17 years, I’ve had the opportunity to hear people’s stories and listen to their challenges. Affirming someone’s walk and encouraging them to take next steps is a privilege. Serving in this capacity reminds me that the only words I have to offer them are those God whispers to me, because on my own, I have no idea what to say. Engaging in these heartfelt conversations is also how God leads me on my walk.

What is something that has surprised you about serving?

17 years ago I was asked to serve on a team that we now call the Response Pastor team. I clearly misunderstood what was being asked of me, because once I started, I felt very weak in my faith and lacked confidence in talking to others about their journey. I quickly want to step away from that role. My ministry leader had another idea: She partnered with me and my faith and confidence grew. 

This team has also helped sharpen my leadership skills. Over the years I’ve had the privilege to listen to others seeking guidance on their walks. Serving on this team taught me that I can’t plan ahead for the situations presented to me. I have to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide me through the conversations. This team has also been my spiritual family. What a gift I never saw coming!

How would you encourage someone that is considering volunteering?

Just jump in. There’s no room to be shy. You’ll know overtime if it’s a good fit.  Be open minded to the feedback you receive. At Willow, we want everyone to serve in their giftedness but that can take some time to figure out. If after trying something, and it’s just not clicking, try something else. God is good, and He (and others) will affirm you.  Nothing is sweeter than when it clicks.

Check out volunteer opportunities and start serving here.