By: Jennifer Bailey
April 22, 2015
“Where two or three are gathered, there will I be also.”- Matthew 18:20 (NRSV)
Every two weeks, I have a standing date with three of my favorite people in the world. We gather online over laptops and lunches in Boston, New York, and Nashville for a time of communal learning and fellowship. Together we form quite the motley millennial crew. In our brood there is a Jewish Yogi digital organizer who finds inspiration in the Gospels, a recent seminary grad working to combat Islamophobia, and a community organizer turned social movement strategist discerning a call to the priesthood. Then there is me, a minister in the A.M.E. Church that directs a faith-rooted justice initiative, the Faith Matters Network.
For one hour, every two weeks we commit to deeply listening to one another. We laugh. We question. We challenge. We push. We hold each other in love. We give one another the gift of our time—and it feels deeply counter-cultural.
One of the greatest paradoxes of the 21st century is dual phenomenon of connection and isolation. We have more tools than ever before to engage each other yet thirst for deeper relationship. This thirst is particularly potent among ministers, advocates, and others in helping professions, who are expected to give of themselves freely without resources to fill themselves back up. As a result, we can become parched and eventually depleted without energy to pour out again.
If faith leaders are to respond to the growing needs of a thirsting world and thrive, we must create communities of praxis that allow vulnerability and authentic self-expression. Spaces that can hold us accountable to our own self-care and to our communal and ethical commitments. Organizations like FTE and the Beatitudes Society are at the forefront of modeling this work in the Christian communities. We have the tools. We have the models. Now we must give ourselves permission to take the time and use them.