It started March 2015 with a phone call. Inquiring if I would be interested in an Associate Position in Missouri.
Hearing the job description felt like finding a needle in a haystack. An associate minister who led in the areas of youth and Christian education but wasn't just a youth leader. Additional staff support through a part time youth director. An opportunity to lead mission efforts with the added benefit of significant funding for ministry to the community. Leading worship and offering pastoral care.
According to the time machine that is Google Calendar, I had a phone interview on April 28th. May 13th I came for an in person visit. The first week of June I signed my letter of call. I started August 25, 2015 after completing my summer unit of Clinical Pastoral Education as a hospital chaplain intern.
The plan was a three year partnership with the option to continue if ministry and finances allowed.
It never was a question, the three year mark came and went and I stayed, grateful for a congregation that has not faltered in their financial and practical support for my position.
In the last 6 years we have (in no particular order):
Had conversations about what healthy, productive, and constructive community ministry looks like
Expanded our ministry with our partner elementary school, including an annual Block Party (...until 2020 that is)
Weathered my severe depressive episode in year 2 and a new diagnosis of ADHD in year 4
Supported the (Disciples!) chaplain at the local hospital through their volunteer chaplain program
Found ways to share together in the fruits of Bethany Fellow retreats
Supported the work of non-profits and ecumenical ministries in our community
Said hello, good-bye, and see you later
Co-hosted Project Homeless Connect with our neighboring churches
Celebrated births and baby dedications, baptisms and graduations
Sat with, prayed with, cried with family members and remembered beloved members of our congregation
Offered support to families in our congregation who needed love, support, and community
Saw our community through the aftermath of a tornado
Adopted the cause of affordable housing, helped along by the donation of property by a church member post tornado
Traveled to Kentucky, St. Louis, Arkansas (Heifer Ranch), Indianapolis for mission trips and General Assembly
Sent kids to camp, including camps I counseled or co-directed
Taught Sunday School, planned summer programs, had retreats, and learned about spiritual practices
Worshiped together on Sundays, on church holidays, for interactive family Christmas Eve services and for new reasons like Blue Christmas
Figured out how to worship together, serve together, learn together in a pandemic – all the tech!
Stepped out of our comfort zones and tried new things like working through a parental leave, a sabbatical (mine), and a ministerial transition
Ended ministries and events to make room for other opportunities
Made mistakes, had things fail, forgot important things, practiced forgiveness and tried again
Experienced and celebrated successes, including some that surprised us!
I give thanks for 6 years of worshiping God, growing in faith, and serving those in need together with this congregation.
It's been a holy time. We have faced small and large changes over the last 6 years and are in the midst of more but God has been and will be present with, continuing to lead us as we listen and follow God's call.