FTE’s Ministry Exploration and Mentoring Grant; The grant was such a tremendous blessing as it enabled me to develop relationships with women that have utilized their experience and/or understanding of grief in their respective ministries.">
By: Natasha Patterson
August 27, 2015
I have been reminded that ministry sounds different, looks different, and is different for each ministerial leader but the call to go and to do remains.
“Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I had the opportunity to meet and engage women of color that have pursued ministry and preaching as a vocation through FTE’s Ministry Exploration and Mentoring Grant1. The grant was such a tremendous blessing as it enabled me to develop relationships with women that have utilized their experience and/or understanding of grief in their respective ministries. These women, pioneers in their own right, were able to create history by voyaging into unchartered territories and doing the work God called them to do.
Rev. Carolyn Dyson, one whom I was privileged to meet, described her call to ministry as embarking on a “journey I knew nothing about.” By being true to herself and obedient to the spirit, doors began to open, opportunities manifested and barriers were dismantled. I have been reminded that ministry sounds different, looks different, and is different for each ministerial leader but the call to go and to do remains.
As I contemplated what made my call and approach to ministry unique, I considered the wisdom from one of my mentors, Bridget Piggue. In our time together this year, she encouraged me to think outside of the box. Bridget invited me to explore non-traditional means of accomplishing a particular task that would yield to my personal skills, gifts and abilities.
In a world that is ever-evolving, I have been reminded of the need to be innovative, creative and adaptable.
This summer I was invited to participate in my first youth revival as the guest preacher. In preparation, I reflected on the revivals I had attended as a child and even as a young adult. I began to think about how I could recapture this framework with the youth I would be privileged to speak to. In my thoughts and reflections, I decided not to go the traditional route and start the revival with a three point sermon and well-constructed illustration.
Instead of taking 20 minutes to tell these brilliant young minds what they should be doing, and how they should be doing it, I invited them to be active participants in the sermonic moment. For roughly 45 minutes the congregation and I opened ourselves to hear and attempt to answer the plethora of questions that these young people had. From what is rubber made of, to why is it important for kids to go to church, to how to find balance between older members and younger members…. we explored the thoughts, questions and ideas that these children and youth had. This revival helped me to apply and incorporate what I have learned this last year.
FTE has afforded me the opportunity to reflect, rethink, and re-imagine what ministry looks like for me as a young African-American woman. This past year has helped me to better understand what I hope to accomplish as a preacher, and to be open to venture into the unknown. Although the road may be less traveled, I am convinced that I can find my way. Even if that means making my own way.
1. To learn more about FTE’s Ministry Exploration and Mentoring grant or to apply click here.