By: Rev. E. Taylor Doctor
August 15, 2013
“We are creating a clearing space to laugh, morn, cry, dance and go back out into the world.” – Carlin Rushing
As we explore our calls, vocations and theological context in which we all reside this week during the Leaders in Ministry Conference we also convene to forge new friendships and networks. When asked “Why are we here?” my new friend, Carlin Rushing made the aforementioned offering in our first cohort meeting which compelled me.
As she uttered those words, the introduction exercise from day one scanned across my mental space and I said to myself, “Surely this is what we initiated in that conference room of the hotel last night.” As clothed as we were in that moment of introduction and beginning the evening we were also challenged to be completely naked in those precious moments as we shared our names, contexts and vocational goals and callings. Those moments of sharing forced me to really think about my current context and lead me to the expression that, “I am living my dream.”
“This new motto for ministry stretches me to be unique in a new and nontraditional way of leading people…”
Currently serving as Youth Minister at the Victory for the World Church UCC in Stone Mountain, GA, my heart was as John Wesley described, “...strangely warmed…” In reality this warmness, though strange because I have never been in this place on my journey, felt strangely familiar. How blessed I am. Here at the conference, we are able to engage our academic or theological education in a way that our hearts are “strangely [familiarly] warmed…”
This, the humanness of ministry and vocation, whatever that looks like is what has drawn each of us to this place for five days of self and group reflection. It is this humanness that reminds us of the struggles faced by a generation who now are dependent upon how we carry this radically inclusive Gospel message of love to the ends of the earth.
Finally, the commencing of this conference means the commencing of new ministry that attracts the unusual suspects and offers to them through our various contexts – hope, love and reconciliation. “We are here creating a clearing space to laugh, morn, cry, dance and go back out into the world.” This new motto for ministry stretches me to be unique in a new and nontraditional way of leading people from all walks of life in the ministry of reconciliation through the hope found in 2 Corinthians 5:17-20:
“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
Now is the time and season that through our calls and vocations our prayers move us from bent knees to sojourning feet. As I laugh, morn, cry, dance, praise and so much more, I bear witness to the call of G-d in each of us as relevant for the reconciliation of faith and witness. This vulnerable place is where I believe G-d has planted us for the culminating of this conference, that we can refresh and rebuild to the glory of G-d and for the service of G-d’s people everywhere.