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.
Affirmations of Calling | Forum for Theological ExplorationA Reflection on My Ministry Exploration and Mentoring Grant Experience | Forum for Theological ExplorationThe Sublime Power of Belief | Forum for Theological ExplorationThe Ministry of Surrender | Forum for Theological ExplorationThe Stillness | Forum for Theological ExplorationRacism: The Most Sinful of Legacies | Forum for Theological ExplorationWhat Is Thy Name | Forum for Theological ExplorationActive Faith is Urgent | Forum for Theological ExplorationRe-Arranged by the Spirit | Forum for Theological ExplorationTo Follow a Call | Forum for Theological ExplorationWhere Two or Three Are Gathered | Forum for Theological ExplorationTooth Fairy | Forum for Theological ExplorationMarking Vocational Transitions Faithfully | Forum for Theological Exploration
Mission Year to attend FTE’s Discernment Retreat in Lake Arrowhead, California.">
Our Becoming | Forum for Theological ExplorationFalling Deeper Into My Calling | Forum for Theological ExplorationLet the Streets Inspire You | Forum for Theological ExplorationWhose Name is on the Invitation? | Forum for Theological ExplorationThe Feeble Art of Radical Hospitality | Forum for Theological ExplorationFinding God in the Rabbit Trail | Forum for Theological ExplorationWhat is Worship to Me | Forum for Theological ExplorationA Resolution for Religion | Forum for Theological ExplorationI am a Pile of Trash | Forum for Theological ExplorationCritical Feeling | Forum for Theological Exploration“Do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:19 | Forum for Theological ExplorationBuddy Crossed the Line | Forum for Theological ExplorationCampus Ministries Shaping the Future | Forum for Theological ExplorationTeaching Theology after Ferguson | Forum for Theological ExplorationImagination Next | Forum for Theological ExplorationCampus Ministries that Stick | Forum for Theological ExplorationHow to Harness the Awkward Pause | Forum for Theological ExplorationIn Praise of Small Spaces | Forum for Theological ExplorationCulture Shock | Forum for Theological ExplorationCan We Keep Our Promises? | Forum for Theological Exploration
Living Stream Church of the Brethren.">
Innovative Ministries: Stepping outside my box | Forum for Theological ExplorationAttentiveness and Practices in Christian Ministry | Forum for Theological ExplorationConducting My Beautiful, Cacophonous Clone Choir | Forum for Theological ExplorationCan you Repack That? | Forum for Theological ExplorationA Christian Take on Mindfulness | Forum for Theological ExplorationThe Building of Community in Unlikely Places | Forum for Theological ExplorationCompensation for Being | Forum for Theological Exploration
Transitioning-into-Ministry (TiM) Participants Gathering. The first year I thought it was a fluke. The second year I was looking for it. This year, I was expecting it. What was is “it”? The power of a room.">
The Power of a Room | Forum for Theological ExplorationCommunication as an Art | Forum for Theological ExplorationShhhhhhhh! | Forum for Theological ExplorationDo We Know Enough About Other Religions? | Forum for Theological ExplorationIs the Institutional Church Worth Saving? | Forum for Theological ExplorationA Muddy Epiphany | Forum for Theological ExplorationPrayers on the Wind | Forum for Theological ExplorationVocation and Inspiration | Forum for Theological ExplorationWhat a Vocational Calling to Ministry Means to Me | Forum for Theological ExplorationThe Anti-Tourism of Meditation | Forum for Theological ExplorationWhen Lions Have Historians | Forum for Theological ExplorationSeeking the Kingdom—and Finding It | Forum for Theological ExplorationCultivating Quality Leadership for a Sustainable Church | Forum for Theological ExplorationSingle-Leader-Centered vs Group-Centered Leadership | Forum for Theological ExplorationLeadership Capacities Every Young Pastor Must Learn | Forum for Theological ExplorationFreedom to Flunk | Forum for Theological Exploration
National Festival of Young Preachers. Originally published on The Huffington Post.
Let us take a moment to look at what Hebrew Scripture teaches about Sabbath. In Exodus, the longest of the 10 commandments says that we should do all our work in six days but on the seventh we should not do any work, nor should we allow anyone else to work—not our children, not those who serve us, not the resident aliens, not even our livestock and animals. (Exodus 20: 8-11) Everybody gets a day off.
Our scriptures understand it. Our story tells it. But do we imbibe it? Do we speak the language of Sabbath?
There is No Rest | Forum for Theological ExplorationA Musical Ministry | Forum for Theological ExplorationReflections on the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference | Forum for Theological ExplorationVolunteers Update from Nashville | Forum for Theological ExplorationLove and Imperfection | Forum for Theological ExplorationHere Comes a Happy Minister | Forum for Theological ExplorationTurn, Turn, Turn | Forum for Theological ExplorationAshes to Ashes | Forum for Theological ExplorationFinding God and Health In The Experience of Storytelling | Forum for Theological ExplorationCome Saturday Morning | Forum for Theological ExplorationStumbling Into the Digital Reformation | Forum for Theological Exploration20 Steps to a Renewed Church | Forum for Theological Exploration
church is boring,” some 20+ million results appear, much of it, well, very, very boring…). But this time was different…">
Bored to Tears: An Act of Contrition for Young Adult Believers | Forum for Theological Exploration
20 Steps to a Renewed Church (posted on April 8th). At first, I didn’t think I had anything more to say than I’d already said. Plus, the mere mention of Church Issues makes me want to fill my backpack with trail mix and furs and head into the Alaskan wilderness indefinitely. But then… what I got to ponder was how easy it is to spout off a Manifesto For How To Live, and how hard it is to actually live. So, here’s my follow-up to the original post.">
Making the Church More Accessible to Folks Under 35 | Forum for Theological ExplorationBin Laden’s Death | Forum for Theological ExplorationDigital Mind and Divine Calling (Part 1 of 2) | Forum for Theological ExplorationDigital Mind and Divine Calling (Part 2 of 2) | Forum for Theological Exploration
Camping’s Family Radio’s website “proves” through some dizzying mathematics that Jesus will come to usher in the eschaton (the end of time).
Here are three reasons I gave why the world will (most likely) not end on May 21, 2011:
It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) | Forum for Theological ExplorationUnbolting the Door: Musings of a Former Volunteer | Forum for Theological Exploration
2011 Leaders in the Academy Conference. After all, in the pursuit for excellence in scholarship in our fields of theological education, we are on a quest. This quest encompasses, as Dr. Emilie M. Townes proclaimed in celebration of the great legacy of Dr. Sharon Watson Fluker, great oeuvres along the way.">
Colonizer or Co-learner? | Forum for Theological Exploration
On Saturday, June 4th, FTE doctoral and dissertation fellows attended the panel Scholarship in Dialogue with Diaspora: A Reflective Conversation. Drs. Diakite, Hucks, Braga, Hopkins, and Lartey reflected on experiences with African and African diasporic communities. Among others, the theme of identity played a critical role in the reflections. The thrust of these comments was that theological and religious discourse in both the church and academy must resist the tendency to define Christian identity in terms of a bipolar, exclusionary logic that consecrates a hierarchy in which the Christian is naturally superior to the heathen. As Christian pastors, preachers, and educators, we must begin to think about ways of conceiving our personal, congregational, and denominational identities in ways that admit the ambiguity of distinctive qualities between saved and sinner, church and world, “us” and “them.”
Beyond the Borders of Identity | Forum for Theological Exploration
2011 Leaders in Ministry Conference in New Orleans, LA
It seems like talk of “practices” is popular again. People and groups both inside and outside the church are re-discovering that our faith is not just about beliefs or intellectual affirmation but about a way of life, a way of living, that connects us to one another and to God. These are not in and of themselves “salvific.” In other words, practices for practices sake, for getting our own spiritual fix, are not transformative, are not converting. But if we engage them with…
Embodying the Practices | Forum for Theological Exploration
FTE Leaders in Minstry Conference in New Orleans is so powerful that I feel compelled to try to put it into words. Why? I have experienced community, and it is good.
I don’t actually remember how I came across this fellowship. It may have been suggested to me by my pastor or possibly the seminary I will be attending. What I do know is that despite my research, I had no idea what to expect when I left for my trip to New Orleans. In my wildest imaginations, I would not have pictured what this conference has become for me.
Learning a New Normal | Forum for Theological Exploration
2011 Leaders in Ministry Conference in New Orleans, LA
Day 1: Getting off of the airplane and touching ground in New Orleans, I let go of my worries, frustrations, anxieties of home life and welcomed in the spirit of God to fill me with the comfort of simply being present, listening and conversing with others on their journey of faith as spiritual social change agents in a world of complacency and despair. I am honored to be in the company of such greatness of minds and comforted in the knowing there is hope for the Christian church and hope does not disappoint…
You have been invited, all are welcome . . . | Forum for Theological Exploration
2011 Leaders in Ministry Conference in New Orleans, LA
As we left the airport and boarded the bus to go from the airport to Dillard University where the conference is being hosted, I was assaulted with the heat and humidity of the Southern summer. Riding through the traffic on the freeway, I looked out the window wondering if I would catch glimpses of the damage and recovery from Hurricane Katrina. We exited the freeway and were stopped at a red light and I saw a person on the side of the road “panhandling.” He had written some illegible words on a sign he was holding that I couldn’t read. But I caught a glimpse of the back of the sign which used to hang at an apartment complex and read “The American Dream, for rent now!” I was struck by the completely contradictory message, this guy was definitely not experiencing the American Dream standing on that corner in the oppressive heat and humidity.
Hanging out in New Orleans with a bunch of aspiring pastors. . . | Forum for Theological Exploration
conference in New Orleans this year. Two uncertainties already in my mind: what is a ministry conference like and how does New Orleans look after two Gulf Coast disasters? The shuttle from the airport to Dillard University was cold and full of chattering voices. I observed how we instinctually categorized each other: What kind of Fellow? What denomination? What seminary? The words felt empty when I said them. They did not actually say much about who I was. It was like placing everyone on a map and we’d only just met ten minutes ago.
A Taste for What we are Missing | Forum for Theological Exploration
Lilly Residency Program at the First Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, MI I took a call as an Associate Pastor in a small city in Michigan. Knowing that the adjustment would not be an easy one, and reflecting on what I had learned from my time in the Lily program, I decided that the first thing I needed was colleagues who could also be friends. So, I went in search of colleagues in the hopes of also finding friends. Knowing I would have a colleague in my Head of Staff, in other clergy in town, and in my governing body, I wanted to seek out colleagues who were in a similar place in ministry—so I sought out young women clergy. ">
Women Clergy Need Girlfriends | Forum for Theological Exploration
Academy of Preachers.
I am two days into a five-day camp, and my mind has been kneaded and sculpted so much in these short hours that I feel my brain must resemble a beloved can of Play-dough. The kneading is a result of love and affection, and it is with the endless possibility of my new intellectual “toys” that I have begun to discover something I can hardly believe I didn’t notice before.
There is no escaping tension.
The Tension of God’s Dance Floor | Forum for Theological Exploration
Academy of Young Preachers, and the FTE staff did a great job of creating a space where learning and development could take place both as preachers and as the people who have been called to preach.">
We are Not Walking Alone | Forum for Theological ExplorationBeyond Religious Illiteracy | Forum for Theological ExplorationIf the Gospel Gathers… | Forum for Theological ExplorationFinding Purpose in the Field | Forum for Theological Exploration
blog. There is something about Christian language in the air!
The “age of the rage for literacy” has arrived at all levels of the Christian conversation. There is also a rush to “describe and denounce religious illiteracy,” but neither advocating for Christian literacy nor decrying illiteracy is very helpful if you can’t describe the next step, so that is what I intend to add to the conversation.
Becoming Playfully Orthodox To Speak “Christian” as a Second Language | Forum for Theological ExplorationThe Church: Accountable to the Transformation it Promises (1 of 2) | Forum for Theological ExplorationThe Church: Accountable to the Transformation it Promises (2 of 2) | Forum for Theological Exploration
Fund for Theological Education (FTE), and he began telling us about the exciting work that FTE has done in developing what it calls VocationCARE. ">
Awakening Courage | Forum for Theological ExplorationThe “Snowflake” Church | Forum for Theological Exploration
Calling Congregations Conference with a small team of my colleagues from Life Together, the Episcopal Service Corps young adult intern program in Boston. I experienced VocationCARE as a set of practices that intend to enliven individuals and communities, with the potential to deepen our relationship to God, to ourselves, to each other and our communities.">
In the Body of Faith and Hope | Forum for Theological Exploration
2011 Calling Congregations Conference
House for All Sinners and Saints is a community of theologians of the cross. Of such theologians, Martin Luther famously argued they were made “by living, nay by dying and by being damned.” It is such a belief that informs HFASS’ ethos of “anti-excellence, pro-participation.” We have become the church we are, not through pursuing programs, but by living, dying, and yes, sometimes being damned, through the messy, unclean, and ecstatically wonderful task of being a church of producers, not consumers; participants, not spectators; failures, not models.
Becoming a Church of the Cross | Forum for Theological Exploration
Reasons for Hope: A Dialogue on the Christian Future” featuring Barbara Wheeler and Richard J. Mouw. Jointly sponsored by The Christian Century and Christianity Today, the event brought together two respected leaders in theological education, each of whom I knew to be an articulate representative of her or his respective liberal or conservative Protestant camp. I was also aware…">
The Categories Aren’t Working Anymore | Forum for Theological ExplorationEcumenical Bounty: A New Framework for the LGBTQ Conversation. | Forum for Theological ExplorationChanging Systems, Personally | Forum for Theological Exploration
Nurturing the Next Generation of Scholars workshops at the 2009 Annual Meetings of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and Society of Biblical Literature (SBL).
Tips for Preparing a Strong Graduate Application | Forum for Theological Exploration
Since graduating from Union Theological Seminary in 2013, we have been intentional about maintaining our friendship as part of our ministry.
Several months ago a member of my congregation in suburban Houston told me that her sister in Boston was dying. My congregant was doing everything she could from afar, but as anyone who has lost a loved one knows, it’s a daunting process. As she headed up to see her sister one last time, I told her that my best friend from seminary was a pastor in the area and I would put them in touch. At the hospital, my friend John sat with her as she made the decision to remove her sister from life support and provided pastoral care to her and the family. John also led a graveside service for her sister. I felt completely confident that my congregant was in great hands.
Since graduating from Union Theological Seminary in 2013, we have been intentional about maintaining our friendship as part of our ministry. We are convinced that intentional, deep, friendships between colleagues in ministry are essential to sustaining effective ministry over the long-haul. Here are three observations about how our friendship has strengthened our ministries.
Good relationships keep the important things front and center
Ministry is filled with the temptation to sink into a rhythm of maintenance. It is so easy to let things that are deeply important, but perhaps not as urgent as this upcoming Sunday, slip further and further out of our workflow. Our friendship helps keep those priorities in the foreground. We remind each other why we got into this work. We hold each other accountable to the core of our call. We make fun of each other when appropriate, too.
Location, location, location
While we were classmates, we quickly realized that our upbringings and experiences shared a lot of commonality, and we had similar goals for our ministries. Still, we are from two different contexts, John serves a UCC church in New England and I serve a United Methodist church in Texas. In our conversations, we often are startled to realize how many things are different because of our different contexts.
Having such frequent communication with someone in such a different context really helps us to always be asking: “is my ministry connected to the Gospel?” It’s so easy in day-to-day life to get so profoundly deep inside your context you forget which way up is. Nothing can replace the blessing of having a close friend in ministry from a different congregation, a different denomination, and a different context.
Build a practice, make it a ritual
The most important practice of our friendship is a weekly Sunday evening phone call. We make every effort to protect this time, to leave space at the end of the day for a leisurely talk. We have used this call to support one another through challenges of life, to workshop ideas that we have in ministry, to dream about the future of the church, and more than once we have taken time to debate the merits of the designated hitter rule.
As we continue making a transition into ministry, I expect that this friendship will remain a vital component of our calls. We are committed to holding on to this relationship because, at the heart of it, we just plain like each other. We enjoy taking, we take a peculiar delight in arguing, and we are grateful to have companions in this sometimes lonely work.