A Seymour pastor surprised his congregation last Sunday with a guest preacher: His 18-year-old daughter.
The Rev. Jeremy Myers, lead pastor of First Baptist Church, started off the Sunday morning service by telling the congregation he had a surprise for them, then proceeded to read Luke 1:26-38.
The Bible verses told the story of how the angel Gabriel went to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to the tell the virgin Mary she would give birth to Jesus, the son of God.
“I’ve always found this passage fascinating, and I’ve always loved all of the Christmas narrative, but this one particularly has jumped out at me,” Myers said. “The angel Gabriel coming to Mary, this young girl, and it’s always a little bit difficult for me to think about how to properly present this being that I’m no longer young and I’ve never been a girl.”
Myers said he thought it might be a little more appropriate and poignant to have the passage presented to the church by a young lady, perhaps close to the age Mary might have been. He then introduced his daughter, Mikayla Myers, to come to the pulpit to deliver her first message on Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Mikayla stepped up to the pulpit to deliver the message, A Family Christmas: Giving Birth to Grace.
“It’s good to be able to share with you all this morning, and as most of you know, I am currently attending Grace College and Theological Seminary at Winona Lake,” she said. “I recently had a meeting with my adviser to discuss my plans for the future, and during the course of an hourlong meeting, we planned out the rest of my life. That’s a slight exaggeration, but that’s what it felt like.”
She said in reality, she and her adviser planned out the next four years of her life in detail, and her dad asked her how would a “bouncing bundle of joy” fit into those plans right now, to which she replied, “No thank you.”
“Every aspect of the Christmas story reminds us that our plans are not always God’s plans, and we need to have open hearts and willing spirits to follow where he might lead,” Mikayla said. “In particular, the story of Mary, mother of Jesus, gives us a lot to think about.”
Mikayla is a part of the school of ministry studies and is a biblical studies major with a minor in intercultural studies and Spanish. She hopes to become a pastor of missions/outreach.
She said her first thought when her dad asked her to give the message was, “Are you serious?” and then she realized he was wasn’t kidding and told him she would do it.
“My dad did the main points and typed up the outline, and we talked through the passage, and he wrote down what I said in the outline,” Mikayla said. “I actually didn’t have time to do it on my own. I had a paper due in my understanding the Old Testament class.”
She didn’t feel nervous leading up to it, but once she was onstage, she did think something along the lines of “Dad, I don’t want to do this anymore.” But once she started talking, she was fine.
“Just the fact Mary and I are close in age helps me identify with her. At that point in time, she wouldn’t have wanted to have a baby. It could have messed up her whole life,” Mikayla said. “I also do not want a baby. It would mess up a lot of plans.”
Mikayla said she feels like she has always known what her dad has done on Sundays.
“I’ve seen the presermon jitters, but once he’s on the stage, he looks completely fine. I’ve shadowed my dad on Sundays ever since I was in middle school,” she said. “I knew what to expect in terms of being onstage as well as people coming up to me and talking to me after the service was over.”
She said in a way, it reminded her of performing on a stage. She was in choir during high school and the musicals her junior and senior years.
“I also did dance from kindergarten through my senior year. We would have yearly recitals, and I did at least two dancing solos throughout that time,” she said. “I’ve never felt nervous leading up to an event where I am on a stage. The nerves always hit me when I get on the stage and have to start performing, or this time preaching.”
Mikayla is a 2021 graduate of Seymour High School and has one brother, J.J., 15. Her mother is Robyn Myers.
Robyn said when Jeremy presented the idea to her about Mikayla giving last Sunday’s message, she was scared for her daughter.
“That would make me extremely nervous, but I knew Mikayla is more outgoing than me and that she would do just fine,” Robyn said. “She’s definitely not afraid to get loud and tell it like it is, nor is she afraid to throw herself under the bus to make a point. She has the same ability to put words together in a way that you’ll remember, and she speaks with a rhythm that’s easy to listen to and engaging.”
To see her daughter at the pulpit made Robyn feel like her baby had grown up. She was so proud of her, she said. Mikayla has always looked like her, but inside, she’s a mini-me of her father, which they saw on full display Sunday.
“We’re counting down the days (to when Mikayla comes home) for winter break,” Robyn said. “We always take time to go drive around town to look at all of the Christmas lights, and our big family tradition is heading to get Chinese food on Christmas Day.”
She said people always assume they do it in honor of the movie “A Christmas Story,” but it actually began when they had to travel from West Virginia to northern Indiana on Christmas Day and Chinese was the only option. They enjoyed it so much that they just kept doing it.
Jeremy said he had the thought of Mikayla helping him preach about Mary a few years ago.
“I always thought it would be interesting hearing a young woman share about what Mary experienced and how it might apply to our lives,” he said. “Even when I brought it up back then, she was ready to go, so when I brought it up this time, she was all in.”
He said Mikayla didn’t hesitate at all and was actually very excited and immediately gave him some thoughts on things she might want to share.
“The first thing Mikayla brought up was the conversation she would have had with Gabriel the angel. We took her initial comments and turned them into a dramatization of how the conversation might have gone,” he said. “We thought about having someone else be the angel but decided it would be funnier with me.”
Jeremy helped Mikayla put the outline together, but other than his dramatic representation of Gabriel, he had nothing to do with her work during the service.
“To see her at the pulpit was amazing. She has a boldness that few people her age possess,” he said. “It takes a lot of courage to stand up and share in front of a few friends, let alone to stand up and preach in front of 200 adults. I couldn’t have been more proud of her.”
He said as a pastor, you hope your kids at least want to keep attending church when they grow up, so having one who is willing to come back and “work” is above and beyond what they could have hoped.
Jeremy said he doesn’t know if he will ever get used to his daughter being away at college. Same as many other parents, he doesn’t like it and misses her.
“But I love that she’s having a great time and getting an excellent education. I can already see a lot of growth,” he said. “And since she’s studying in my field, we are able to have some pretty cool conversations. She’s even teaching me some things I didn’t know.”
He said he is very grateful for the amazing influences Mikayla has had through her time in Seymour.
“We know we didn’t raise her on our own. It takes a village,” he said. “And the village we have here in Seymour and those we’ve had in previous communities have played a vital role in creating the space and experiences that have helped form her into the amazing, confident, bold young woman she is today.”