Snowmass Chapel director of youth, families pursues seminary

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun
Charla Belinski, the Snowmass Chapel's director of youth and families, is pursuing a master's of divinity with the goal of becoming the church's associate pastor.
Jeremy Wallace/Snowmass Sun |

In her sermon this past Sunday, Charla Belinski spoke to the congregation gathered at the Snowmass Chapel about how people find what it is they want to do in life.

The chapel’s director of youth and families, Belinski spoke about how sometimes people stumble onto their passions — something she is a living testament to, as she gets close to finishing her first year as a seminary student.

“I never ever saw myself as a minister,” Belinski said. “I never even saw myself working for a church. It was really just God calling.”

About a year ago, the Snowmass Chapel, which has seen 30 percent growth in attendance in the past five years, started looking at hiring a part-time associate pastor to support Senior Pastor Robert de Wetter. Around the same time, Belinski delivered a sermon one Sunday — “which I was totally scared to do,” she said — and started thinking about earning a master’s in theology in order to enhance her knowledge.

“It’s not so much about what we have planned. It’s more about what God has planned for your life than what you have planned.”Charla BelinskiSnowmass Chapel

Many members of the congregation asked her to consider becoming the chapel’s associate pastor after that sermon though, and when she talked to her husband, Tim, about it, he encouraged her to look into programs in divinity, which also prepare students to apply what they’ve learned through ministry.

When she asked De Wetter what he thought, he was “over the moon,” she said.

While some of her classmates will be ordained into a particular denomination, that’s not what Belinski has in mind. The chapel is fully supporting her education, and when she’s finished she will become its associate pastor.

“I’m not inclined to get ordained in a mainline church like that,” Belinski said. “My plan is to be ordained by the Snowmass Chapel to be the associate pastor at Snowmass Chapel.”

Belinski considered lots of programs but landed on the Iliff School of Theology in Denver. The classes are all online, except once a quarter she has a week of school on campus in Denver.

Her three kids are old enough now that it’s easier to go back to school, she said. Her youngest, Anna Kate, is a junior at Aspen High School, and the two do their homework together at the kitchen table.

“I love being in school,” Belinski said. “To go back at my age is such a treat.”

Her classes cover everything from studies of the Bible to pastoral counseling to broader topics such as “War and Peace and Religion.”

But being open to new directions is perhaps the lesson that applies most to her life right now. She recalls the advice someone at the chapel gave her when she was making her decision: “Pay attention to what people are telling you, because that’s where you begin to see where your strengths are.

“It’s not so much about what we have planned. It’s more about what God has planned for your life than what you have planned.”