By LOIS KINDLE
Victoria Sorensen was born into a family with a long military tradition. After graduating high school in 1979, she enlisted in the Army at age 18 and retired 20 years later as a master sergeant.
“Service to country was a big thing to me,” she said, noting she had been a member of her high school’s JROTC. “I had a calling to do something bigger than self.”
Little did she know that calling would take her well beyond the military.
Sorensen started out as a combat medic in the Ohio National Guard. Her military career took her to Virginia, where she joined the Army Reserves and worked at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. By the fall of 1985, she was serving active duty as an Army recruiter at the Fort Meade, Md., processing center guiding enlisted recruits. From there she moved on to U.S. Army Recruiting Command in Fort Knox, Ky.
Sorenson married her husband, David, a now retired Army major, in 1996. They have three grown children between them – her son Kyle, his daughter Selena, his son Christopher and four grandchildren, ages 5 to 11. The couple resides in Waterset.
A Methodist all her life, Sorensen’s next role became serving the church.
She first did administrative and ministry work at Waldheim UMC in Covington, Ky., from February 2017 to June 2021. Built in 1860 by a group of German settlers, the one-room house of worship had a congregation of 75 members.
“I got my calling in 2018, after hearing the same recurring hymns in my sleep,” Sorensen said. “I didn’t realize what they were until I looked them up.
“The words made me realize what was happening, but I just kept ignoring the message,” she continued. “I didn’t even tell my husband.”
Sorensen said the culmination of her experience with the dreams came when asked to be a delegate to an annual Methodist conference in 2019, which included a commissioning and ordination service for a group of pastors. The very hymns she had been hearing in her sleep were part of that service.
“It made me realize I needed to pay attention and heed my calling,” she said. “Ministry is normally not a person’s first choice. But after that realization, I went through candidacy and licensing school in March 2021 and was appointed the following July as dual-charge pastor of Kentwood UMC in Kentwood and Darlington UMC in Chipola [Louisiana] for a bit more than a year.
In July 2022, Sorensen and her husband moved to Apollo Beach to be closer to her aging father, who resides in Kings Point.
She became director of ministries for the United Methodist Church of Sun City Center the same month, where she oversees its Mary Petro program, food pantry and hospitality ministry; Breakaway Respite; Center for Life Learning; children’s and youth ministries; Community Connections; congregational care team; health ministry; Disaster Response team; and between 200 to 250 volunteers at any given time.
Sorensen loves the role.
“I like people, the outreach capabilities and the ability to partner with other organizations in the community,” she said. “I’m very much into taking care of our [congregation] members but also members of the community. It’s important to serve all people.
“My entire life has been about service,” Sorensen said. “Even before the military, I babysat, volunteered in a nursing home and was both a Brownie and Camp Fire Girl.
“Looking back, everything I’ve done has been preparing me for ministry,” she continued. “It’s all been truly a God thing.”