Methodist director chooses ministry, teaching over pharmacy career

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The Rev. Johnny Silva found his passion through campus ministry.

By Neven Jones

The director of the United Methodist Student Movement, the Rev. Johnny Silva, almost became a pharmacist.

Silva was accepted to three pharmacy schools in Texas and was all set to go until he found his passion in campus ministry.

He looked at pharmacy school because it was something his parents approved of.

His sister dated a pharmacist and suggested the career to Silva. Because he liked science, he decided to pursue it.

Silva was introduced to campus ministry during his last year at the University of Texas at San Antonio where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biology May 2004.

At UTSA, Silva joined a church youth group for college students. There he met a great group of friends and his future wife.

With the youth group, Silva toured eight of 13 United Methodist seminaries in the U.S.

He also sat in on classes and talked with students.

Through this experience, he started to visualize a future in seminary.

It became clear that a career as a pharmacist was not for him, he said.

Silva said he could go to pharmacy school and finish or he could study theology and enjoy himself as he studied.

In 2004, Silva took on a leadership role at UTSA where he was co-program director of the United Methodist Student Movement at the main campus.

The only office space for United Methodist Student Movement is at this college even though they serve several campuses.

He also started a new ministry at the downtown campus of UTSA.

Silva graduated from the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 2009 with a master’s in divinity.

While he was in seminary, he served as youth director of First United Methodist Church of Garland, First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth, and Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Bedford.

Before coming back to San Antonio, Silva served as the associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Corpus Christi for three years.

His current job keeps him busy because he travels to three campuses that are part of San Antonio United Methodist Campus Ministries.

He travels to Trinity and UTSA.

Silva is at this college all day Tuesday and Wednesday, and Thursday and Friday mornings.

Silva has some new things planned for the Methodist Student Movement and some things he’d like to keep.

Bible Study, Inspirational Movies and Hot Potato presentations will continue.

“There is a lot of really good stuff that is going to continue from the last couple of years, and then some stuff I’d like to get back to,” Silva said.

Silva would like to bring back local, national and international mission trips. In the past, he went on mission trips to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, England and Scotland.

Silva has been in youth ministry for eight years, and a majority of that time was spent at SMU in Dallas.

In seminary, he learned to see both sides of an issue and argue both sides.

Silva said listening to different viewpoints helped him think beyond himself and deepened his understanding of other points of views.

He said instead of the churches begging the students to come, campus ministry meets the students where they are, so the students can be themselves and feel welcome.

“You don’t have to act differently; you don’t have to dress differently or whatever to be in conversation with me. The thing that unites us is that I have a love for my neighbor, and you’re my neighbor, and I’m coming to meet you,” Silva said.

Silva has been the director at this college since July 1. The former director, the Rev. John Feagins, moved to La Trinidad United Methodist Church in San Antonio.

For more information, call Silva at 210-733-1441.


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