By: Neichelle R. Guidry Jones
October 22, 2012
If there is one thing that I know, it is that I have been blessed with people and communities who have supported my ministerial and academic endeavors. This support has motivated to continue pursuing my calling to preach and teach. As time as transpired, I’ve met countless young adults who have not had these types of support systems. Without the blessings of likeminded peers and mentors, many young adults have been left to figure things out for themselves. On one hand, this has clarified the resilience and the creativity with which many young adults are living into our vocations. On the other, it has clarified the void into which affirming words have yet to be spoken to the next generation of leaders.
Shepreaches Magazine was born out of a desire to offer support to African-American young adult women in ministry. There were a few guiding goals that lead to its creation and support its existence.
The first goal is to provide information for professional growth and development. The journey into one’s ministerial identity is hard enough with the lights on, and so to stumble around in darkness could mean the demise of her ministry before it ever takes off. Resources such as Shepreaches Conversations and the “becoming” column are purposed to shine a light on the path to becoming self-respecting and professionally competent women in ministry.
The second goal is to broaden how ministry is defined within young adult circles. Ministry is more than preaching or working in a church. Ministry is what happens when we actualize our God-given voices and gifts in an effort to serve our communities. To convey the many ways that this is happening, the plan is to feature the work and the voices of a wide variety of women and men who are doing a wide variety of works.
The final goal is to provide inspiration. This is perhaps the highest hope of all. I cannot say how many times that listening to an Esperanza Spalding album or reading the works of Zora Neale Hurston have inspired me to experiment with new forms of preaching and teaching. Through such experiences, I have learned that the inner well of the spirit must always contain a reserve of inspiration. Even if it isn’t full, there must always be a song, a poem, or a vision that can spark a new idea. The prayer is that inner wells will be filled and that new forms of gaining and spreading knowledge will be inspired through the work of Shepreaches Magazine.
Like any other leap of faith, Shepreaches is fueled by goals and hopes. But, an ultimate goal is to value the multiplicity of ministries that Black women are doing, and to name the journeys by which these ministries are born. It is a stand in solidarity with all those who still struggle to make moves in ministry on account of their gender. It is a celebration of stories and insights, and an Amen Corner for the word that God is speaking through young Black women.
|Neichelle Guidry Jones is the Founder of Shepreaches Magazine. As a current FTE Doctoral Fellow, she is a second-year PhD student in Liturgical Studies at Garrett-Evangelical Seminary in Evanston, IL. She currently serves as the Associate Pastor to Young Adults at Trinity UCC in Chicago. Reach her on Twitter at @nrgjones.|