Posts

Picking Up the Pace

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This fall we’ve asked a number of leaders to respond to the question, “What is saving your ministry right now?” Amanda Pine is one of our workshop presenters for the 2016 National Gathering. Learn more about the workshop at the end of this post. We invite you to join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

By Amanda Pine

November and December always pass by in a blur of gift wrap, family gatherings, and huge church events. While I keep my Sunrise calendar on my phone (best app ever, seriously try it!) updated with the various work and social engagements that stack up in the holiday season, the stress that comes along with getting the perfect presents and planning the perfect Advent event cannot be managed by an app. My outlet for releasing stress this holiday season is running.

I have signed up for a ten mile race in February, and while that is by far the longest distance I have ever run, the training process has proved to be the greatest stress relief this winter. As part of the process, I have started running three days a week. My time running allows me to collect my thoughts, take time for myself, and nurture my body in a time that is overridden with stress. Exercise has become a part of my spiritual practice and the saving grace of my ministry this holiday season!


Amanda PineAmanda Pine lives at the oceanfront in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband and cat. She is a seminary student at Union Presbyterian Seminary, and is currently serving as Director of Christian Education at Great Bridge United Methodist Church. She is co-leading a workshop entitled “Youth Ministry Beyond the Bubble” at the 2016 NEXT Church National Gathering.

God Is More Than the Church

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This fall we’ve asked a number of leaders to respond to the question, “What is saving your ministry right now?” Jessica Vasquez Torres is one of our workshop presenters for the 2016 National Gathering. Learn more about the workshop at the end of this post. We invite you to join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

By Jessica Vasquez Torres

What is saving my ministry right now? This is such an interesting question given the assumptions it holds particularly by the use of the word “saving.”

According to the Oxford Dictionary “to save” means to protect from harm, to prevent waste, and/or keep things for future use. So I must rephrase the question and ask it in its fullness. What is protecting my ministry from harm? What is preventing me from wasting it or at least from wasting my energy in the living of my vocation? What is allowing me to conserve or keep a vision of the church for future use in the exercise of my sense of call?

jessica savingThese questions then must be asked in the context of a nation gripped by xenophobic thinking and imagery and of increasing islamophobia, with a rise in the visibility of overtly racist white nationalists groups where people of color, particularly African Americans, are presumed to be dangerous threats to public safety and therefore expendable and in which class, gender, and race disparities reveal the cracks in the armor of our so called democracy.

For me, the answer to these questions is my participation in a community of queer and straight organizers, critical thinker and theorists, visionaries, educators, and strategic thinkers of every walk of life and faith who are explicitly committed to the eradication of white supremacy and the restoration of creation for every living thing. For me it is a systemic analysis of white supremacy that demands movement away from thin ideas about the efficacy of diversity efforts and a move toward thicker frameworks and analysis which call out the ways in which the church is systemically complicit in the maintenance of racism and other forms of systemic oppression. I think of the application of this analysis as a spiritual practice that grounds me in reality and frees my imagination. What is saving my ministry is an understanding, emerged from 15 years of work in the field of antiracism and institutional transformation, that God is more than the church and that for the church to be a partner the in-breaking of the kin-dom of God on this earth it will have to let go of much of the cultural and institutional practices that hold it captive to white supremacy. It is this realization that has given direction, focus, and renewing energy to my ministry for more than a decade.


Jessica Vazquez TorresJessica Vasquez Torres is a proven leader with 15 years experience in antiracism, anti-oppression, and cultural competency workshop development and facilitation. Jessica, a 1.5-Generation ESL Queer Latina of Puerto Rican descent, holds a Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Florida, a Master of Divinity from Christian Theological Seminary, and a Master of Theological Studies from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. She is speaking and leading a workshop “Strategic Interventions to Make Diverse Community” at the 2016 NEXT Church National Gathering.

Finding Hope in Conflict

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This fall we’ve asked a number of leaders to respond to the question, “What is saving your ministry right now?” Andrew Plocher is one of our workshop presenters for the 2016 National Gathering. Learn more about the workshop at the end of this post. We invite you to join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

By Andrew Plocher

Conflict is all around us. It seems even more present this Advent than in years past, and it fits well with the beauty of God’s light breaking into the world’s darkness. Conflict. Good versus evil, light versus dark, Advent hymns versus Christmas ones, fear versus love, spritz versus gingerbread cookies. Whether trivial or existential, there are conflicts all around us.

photo credit: love-candle via photopin (license)

photo credit: love-candle via photopin (license)

Learning to agree or disagree in love is not easy. Conflict has a bad rap in our culture and especially the church, where it brings up visions of parking lot conversations and membership in exodus. Yet conflict is not a bad thing. In fact, I believe it is regularly saving my ministry. I don’t know when I first learned to value conflict, but I think it parallels my learning to bake artisan breads. While conflict has the potential to be terribly destructive, it also has the potential to be generative. In baking bread, the leaven (e.g. yeast) is in conflict with the salt. If the leaven wins, the bread lacks texture and flavor. If the salt wins the bread fails to rise and is far too salty. The two have two work together to find a balance so that the perfect texture and flavor are met in the baking of the bread. Finding that balance is part science and part art. The same holds true to navigating the conflicts we face in our daily lives and our congregations.

As I face the seasonal conflicts in congregational life, I try to view them as generative. In every conflict there is the potential for creativity, for death and resurrection, for something new to arise. In the annual squabble over who will be baby Jesus there’s a chance to reframe a pageant, to explore how we value children in worship, and grow as a church family. In a conflict over politics, there’s an opportunity to explore how we communicate with one another, learn to listen, and navigate the intersection of personal values and public faith. None of that is easy, but every time I walk through conflict I do so knowing that there’s the potential for light and life. It doesn’t matter if I’m working with a congregation torn apart, an individual wrestling with how to lead through conflict, or navigating the challenges of my own family politics during the holiday season.

No matter what the conflict, there is hope. It’s in the beauty of Advent and the light coming into the world. It’s in the beauty of baking a perfect sourdough bread. It’s in the beauty of witnessing a community find healing or an individual find a path through a challenging time. It’s witnessing the wonder of agreeing and disagreeing in love. It sounds crazy, but conflict is saving my ministry, and I hope that it might, in some way, do the same for you.


 

Andrew PlocherAndrew’s workshop: Agreeing and Disagreeing in Love

Conflict has always been a part of religious communities. It is something every congregation, whether just beginning or centuries into its life, experiences. These disagreements can be forces for creation or destruction and navigating that balance is challenging. Come hear about strategies to disagree in love and to join in conversation about how conflict is changing and how we can, as a community of faith, creatively address it in our different contexts. Offered Tuesday during workshop block 2. Learn more and register now.

Andrew Plocher is the new pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Gwinn, Michigan, and a minister member of National Capital Presbytery. He has a decade of experience working with conflicted congregations and non-profit organizations. He is also working on finishing his D.Min. in pastoral counseling at Louisville Seminary.

Singular, Quiet Questioning

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This fall we’ve asked a number of leaders to respond to the question, “What is saving your ministry right now?” We invite you to join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

By Gary Swaim

A painting by Gary Swaim

Crux by Gary Swaim

At age 81, I’ve been on a rich, extended pilgrimage. I’ve experienced the usual twists and turns of life, but there’s always been a single light and my focus. The light would occasionally flicker somewhat, and my attention would wane, but even when the light turned dimmer, or seemed to, it held me. My ministry (watching or looking for the light) moved from one rooted in a juvenile, outspoken certainty to one more internalized, quiet, and questioning.

My ministry reversed its locus from external to internal, changing almost everything about me.

In time I would learn that the external could not be authentic until it grew from an internal drive and understanding. And, for some twenty-five years or so now, I have lived (or tried to live) the singular spiritual life, with a reasonable quietness and a questioning spirit. I have long ago left the life of parroting others. I have tried to go deeply into the self to find truths and the light, then to come out into the public with my writing (poems, plays, fiction), painting, and university teaching. In these endeavors and with my deeply committed Christian community I can fulfill my mission.


GarySwaim_webGary Swaim is a ruling elder in Irving, TX. He is a professor in the Master of Liberal Studies program at Southern Methodist University of Dallas. He teaches playwriting, the writing of both poetry and fiction, creativity, and studies in diverse interdisciplinary courses. More recently, he has added digital painting to his efforts, professionally. To learn more about Gary’s work, visit his website.

When Creativity Saves You from the “F” Word in Ministry

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This fall we’ve asked a number of leaders to respond to the question, “What is saving your ministry right now?” Lisle Gwynn Garrity is one of our workshop presenters for the 2016 National Gathering. Learn more about the workshop at the end of this post. We invite you to join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

By Lisle Gwynn Garrity

We all know the feeling.  You’re neck-deep in sermonizing, lesson-planning, worship designing, or any venture that requires you to put your blood, sweat, and tears into creating something as an offering to others, and then the “F” word starts to rear its ugly head. FEAR is creativity’s brute oppressor; it shows up right when we’re in the thick of imagining or creating something new, and whispers not-so-sweet nothings in our ears.

“This is the WORST sermon ever written–even Calvin will be snoring from his grave.”

“We can’t possibly try this new youth activity–the youth will mock it and laugh in my face.”

“Members will certainly LEAVE THE CHURCH if I suggest we do something different for the prayers of the people this Sunday.”

Fear has this way of gripping us by the throat, choking us of any God-breathed inspiration for which we are gasping. And, too often, the “F” word wins out, shutting down the whole creative operation.  God forbid, the “F” word may even have something to do with that dreaded and familiar moniker, the frozen chosen.

Lisle Gwynn Garrity1

As a liturgical artist, retreat leader, and worship consultant, my ministry is constantly butting heads with the “F” word. When leading worship arts retreats, where I invite anyone and everyone (artist and “non-artist” alike) to create art in community, I talk a lot about the “F” word. There’s something about a blank canvas and a paintbrush that tend to strike fear into the hearts of most grown adults. So we talk about that fear. I declare that, if the “F” word shows up, we can acknowledge it, observe it, and then move right past it. That is the gospel promise, after all–fear and death will not have the last word.

When creating live visual art during worship, I am forced to practice what I preach. Being a self-proclaimed “artist” offers no protection from the “F” word, believe me. Painting for an audience to witness and scrutinize any mistake is vulnerability at its finest. But, when I step past the “F” word, I can fully offer myself as a vessel to be shaped and molded by God. Giving my whole self to the creative process is a full-body prayer; in those moments of fearlessness, I am most open, most willing, and most able to offer my gifts to others and to God.

Lisle Gwynn Garrity

So, what’s your fear-stomping creative practice? What’s one way you can regularly practice creativity (perhaps through painting, singing, cooking, gardening, wood-working, etc.) to strengthen your capacity to confront the “F” word? What’s one way you can offer your whole self to a creative process and to God? Most importantly, how can tapping into your unique, God-given creativity open yourself to that wild and restless divine Spirit that is so ready to do good work through and in you?

Lisle Gwynn Garrity2

 


Lisle Gwynn Garrity HeadshotLisle Gwynn Garrity is a Pastorist (pastor + artist) diving into ministry with a creative and entrepreneurial drive. A recent graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary, she holds master’s degrees in divinity and practical theology. If you’re interested in pushing past the “F” word to create art in community, sign up for her workshop, “Arts & Worship” at the 2016 National Gathering. See more of Lisle’s work at www.sanctifiedart.com or on Facebook at A Sanctified Art.

Learning Through Discomfort

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This fall we’ve asked a number of leaders to respond to the question, “What is saving your ministry right now?” We invite you to join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

By Sophia Har

Four o’clock. The teacher must be on her way, I thought. Still, to ease my North-American anxiety towards punctuality, I went to find the woman in charge.

“Mabel, is Shirley coming?” I asked.

“No, she couldn’t make it today,” came the reply. “Maria can help you.”

I never found out who Maria was. When I returned to the patio, girls and boys were already forming a semicircle of chairs in preparation for their weekly Bible lesson. Not wanting to lose their attention, I quickly took my seat. The children returned my gaze, eager and ready to listen. That brief moment was so full of potential I didn’t want to speak. I knew that once I opened my mouth, my accent would betray my act of competence.

That is exactly what happened. The more I tried to engage them, stumbling over words and executing ideas as they came, the more restless the children became. The older ones chatted among themselves while the three-year-olds just looked confused. I literally breathed a sigh of relief when five o’clock finally arrived.

Yet I could hardly keep from laughing. Admittedly, my eyes burned a little, but it was too funny to cry. Within minutes I’d gone from being the silent teacher’s aide to being the unprepared sub. I could imagine kids telling their moms about this random lady from los Estados Unidos who tried to get them to sing, speak English, and act out the Nativity of Jesus. Or kids not recalling anything because it’d been so chaotic.

There were numerous moments during that long hour when I could have lost it. I could’ve given into perfectionism, counting every smirk as a mark of failure. I could’ve pretended to be ignorant, letting the kids run wild as an act of surrender. I could’ve chosen anger, blaming under-communication, the teacher, my basic Spanish skills, the children … I could have, because I have chosen these responses in the past.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about surviving in Colombia as a non-Spanish-speaking foreigner, it’s this: laugh at myself.

Because locals are going to laugh at me whether or not they know me.

Because I’m often early, even when I’m running late.

Because meeting times will change and I’ll only find out if I call to confirm the meeting.

Because people always ask, Where are you from and Where are you really from, due to my accent and appearance.

Because my heart still races when I cross the street.

Because if I keep living as I did in the United States, with the same expectations towards social norms, time commitments, race relations, and traffic laws, I would probably become frustrated, resentful and isolated.

I don’t dismiss the challenges of culture shock or the emotions that come with it. I certainly would appreciate hearing fewer jokes or stereotypes about my ethnicity. But I’ve come to see each experience of dissonance as an opportunity – an opportunity to appreciate difference, to examine assumptions, to laugh.


sophiaSophia​ Har currently serves as a Young Adult Volunteer in Barranquilla, Colombia, where she supports the North Coast Presbytery in its peacebuilding efforts. She accompanies local Presbyterian churches in their ministries in various neighborhoods. Her work includes practicing Spanish, teaching English to children, participating in a Bible study with people of all ages, and visiting a displaced community called El Tamarindo. She also enjoys playing soccer in the park, dancing, and chatting with people without worrying about time. She blogs about her YAV experience at http://sophiahar.wordpress.com.
Prior to serving in Colombia, Sophia lived in Washington, DC, where she worked for Jubilee USA and for Sojourners, two faith-based advocacy organizations. Next year she will return to DC, where she hopes to work in international development and with Spanish-speaking communities.

 

Vulnerability Through Writing

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This fall we’ve asked a number of leaders to respond to the question, “What is saving your ministry right now?” Shelby Etheridge Harasty is one of our workshop presenters for the 2016 National Gathering. Learn more about the workshop at the end of her post. We invite you to join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

By Shelby Etheridge Harasty

When I first graduated from seminary I was not looking to preach. Ever. It humbled me, challenged me, and frankly, terrified me to the point that I did not enjoy it. Thankfully, that has changed.

As an associate pastor I preach once a month, maybe twice if it’s a month that includes Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, or another mid-week liturgical event. When the head of staff at our church went on sabbatical over the summer, all that changed. As the acting head pastor I was preaching almost every week, and even when I wasn’t preaching I was still writing liturgy and studying the lectionary to craft the order of worship and work with guest preachers.

There’s something about preaching, about praying, studying, writing and saying your own words out loud that allow for moments of vulnerability that don’t happen much in “regular life.” While my knees still shook every time I walked to the pulpit, I felt the preciousness of sharing something I had written, something I had labored over, put my heart into with people who are both strangers and friends.

379812751_96ea577a0e_oNow that the head of staff is back from his sabbatical and I am back to my “regular” preaching schedule, I miss that weekly opportunity for vulnerability. As odd as it may sound, I treasure the that moment of fear and awe that overtakes me when I start to say that first word of the sermon.

Writing has been a great way for me to continue to challenge myself to be vulnerable. Even though I’m not preaching nearly as much, I can still write. I can still write every week, even every day when time allows. Pressing “send” on a blog post offers that same thrill of fear and awe and vulnerability as that preaching moment.

When I first started in ministry, I didn’t realize that I would find so much grace and strength in vulnerability. Brené Brown is at the forefront of this vulnerability revolution, and she talks about it in her newest book, Rising Strong. She says “Revolution might sound a little dramatic, but in this world, choosing authenticity and worthiness is an absolute act of resistance. Choosing to live and love with our whole hearts is an act of defiance. You’re going to confuse, piss off, and terrify lots of people—including yourself. One minute you’ll pray that the transformation stops, and the next minute you’ll pray that it never ends. You’ll also wonder how you can feel so brave and so afraid at the same time. At least that’s how I feel most of the time… brave, afraid, and very, very alive.” [1]

And that’s how I feel when I write, when I let words take life and flow from my fingertips. Brave, afraid, and very, very alive.

 

[1] Brown, Brené. Rising Strong: The Reckoning, The Rumble, The Revolution. Spiegel & Grau, New York, NY, 2015. page 254.

photo credit: 7/365 5.2.2007 (self): Notes on Takayuki’s workshop via photopin (license)


Shelby’s National Gathering Workshop: Practicing Vulnerability

What does the vulnerability of God teach us about faithful practice at the crossroads? We will combine theological and Biblical reflection with the insights of Brené Brown to develop models of Christian practice that display vulnerability and courage. The practical ways that vulnerability can influence pastoral leadership and congregational ministry will be explored. Finding courage to be vulnerable – as God is – can deepen the ways we lead our congregations and live our lives. Offered Tuesday during workshop block 2. Learn more and register here.

Shelby Etheridge HarastyShelby Etheridge Harasty has served as Associate Pastor at Saint Mark Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, MD, since 2013. The recipient of the Presidential Leadership Award from Union Presbyterian Seminary, she is especially interested in the intersection of art, prayer, practice and justice. She blogs at Courage in the Cracks.

 

Engagement in Church and Community

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This fall we’ve asked a number of leaders to respond to the question, “What is saving your ministry right now?” We invite you to join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

By John Wilkinson

At our staff meetings each week, we begin with going around the circle and asking people to share “one good thing” from the previous Sunday. It’s a great prelude for all that follows, not a magic corporate strategy but a lovely litany of faith and reminder of the ministry to which we are called.

I am not sure that anything is saving my ministry right now, other than Jesus! But I do know that many, many good things are giving my ministry energy and fueling my passion, for which I am very grateful. Here’s a list…

  • Worship. Worship. Worship.
  • A call to make a difference in public education in Rochester, New York and Monroe County, where concentrated poverty and inequitable access holds children back. Fortunately, through the Great Schools for All movement, we are making a difference in our community. It’s the good and hard work of organizing and coalition building, all very Presbyterian.
  • A transforming trip to Kenya in October, where five of us visited our partner congregation just outside Nairobi. We experienced extraordinary hospitality and learned so much about what it means to be the church. Plus, the sights and sounds of Kenya are indescribable.
  • Challenging and important conversations on race and racism that we are attending in our community and hosting in our congregation, led primarily by Facing Race, Embracing Equity (FR=EE) a local community organization.
  • Our Book of Order, yes, our Book of Order. We utilized a new provision in the Form of Government to transition an interim associate pastor to an associate pastor. We worked closely and cooperatively with our Committee on Ministry, who engaged this new process with great thought. Cheers to a new sense of adaptability for mission purposes!
  • Stewardship, yes stewardship. We are having creative conversations about faith and money and seeking ways to make Stewardship Sunday feel different than it traditionally has.
  • A Vision and Strategy team on which I am privileged to serve in our presbytery. We are working on what many presbyteries are working on, the difficult task of change in a fluid environment. We are putting a heavy emphasis on relationships and also reminding ourselves that a presbytery’s health is closely linked to congregational health and pastoral leader’s health.
  • The East Avenue Grocery Run. What began as a way to reframe a hunger walk and to raise money for our various hunger programs at Third Church has turned into an epic event with over 1300 runners and walkers and thousands and thousands of dollars raised for our hungry neighbors. A wonderful leadership team makes it all happen, meeting rarely. We’ve also involved local businesses and other community groups who normally wouldn’t connect with a faith group, but do for this. It’s been fabulous!

I know that all of the above are very contextual and personal, but if there are common denominators and transportable values, they reside in collegiality and collaboration, openness to innovate, and a heavy reliance on prayer. I am grateful indeed!


john wJohn Wilkinson is Pastor of Third Presbyterian Church in Rochester, NY. He has been active on the presbytery and national levels, including on the Strategy Team for NEXT Church, and loves our connectional culture and confessional legacy.

Praying Through Letters

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This fall we’ve asked a number of leaders to respond to the question, “What is saving your ministry right now?” We invite you to join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

By Andrew Taylor-Troutman

Bringing home a newborn begs for saving grace, especially if you and your partner already have a three-year-old boy sprinting around the house in joyful abandon. Kathleen Norris once wrote that the etymology of salvation is to make a road wide enough to sustain life.[1] I know my spouse and I continue down the path of sanity in large part because of the saints of our church—the gracious bearers of grilled pork tenderloin and hearty fall soups, the open-hearted givers of homemade lasagnas and made from scratch gingerbread and leafy green salads delivered with a few greenbacks and a knowing wink. Three weeks home from the hospital and I have already burned through two boxes of stationary. How many different ways can you say thank you? It’s fun to try and find out.

Speaking of discovery, this baby’s pull upon our family life is as sure as the tide’s ebb and flow though not nearly as predicable. Yet the man in the moon cycles through his phases above, stoic in light of our little world’s utter transformation. The church spins on, too, the faces of the saints shadowed by the mean hopes and cheap graces of daily struggles. But I realize that I cannot do the things I once did on behalf of the community. There are not enough hours in the day. Whether you are a pastor or not, you know this to be true.

Perhaps you likewise know the late night relief of the baby finally falling asleep, clutching the collar of your old t-shirt like a tiny koala bear. You don’t want to put him down too soon and risk those eyes fluttering wide awake. So your mind wanders and wonders, doesn’t it? The moonlight streams through the nursery window and countless others, the same light that softly falls on your newborn’s slack jaw likewise rests upon the beds of those who have graced your home with their gifts. You remember them in the seeming eternity of this dark night. Remember the anniversary of a death, the eye appointment coming up here at the end of the month; remember the child overseas at war, the grandchild across the country in school. You remember them and theirs and, right after putting the baby down, just before you collapse into bed, you write a brief thinking-of-you-card in chicken scratch hand, a little inky fellow which you manage to slip into the next day’s mail.

What, you ask, is saving my ministry? Between balancing and bouncing, fixing and changing, soothing and bathing and Lord knows all else, I can manage a letter—a written record of a moment of prayer, read by someone else’s tired eyes. And you know what? It’s fun and, perhaps, even opens a little road of a relationship, which if not a definition of salvation, might just lead to a healthy ministry.

 

[1] Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I cite her often in sermons.


andrew tt

Andrew Taylor-Troutman is the teaching elder of New Dublin Presbyterian Church. You can learn about his novel, Earning Innocence, on the publisher’s website or his blog.

 

 

Saved by Self-Care

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This fall we’ve asked a number of leaders to respond to the question, “What is saving your ministry right now?” We invite you to join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

By Shannon Waite

When I think about what is saving my ministry, the theme that has kept popping back up in my head over and over is self-care and the war it can be to claim time for it. True confession: my greatest battle for self-care is with myself. I love my to do lists, but they never end and sometimes I lose myself in trying to complete them. The fact remains, though, that when I take care of myself, I’m a better person and a better campus minister.

I’m still learning how to perfect the art of self-care, but two things I have discovered that work for me is to go on retreats with friends and colleagues and to do something that feeds my soul and passion. It is hard to find time to get away, but it is so worth it. I whined to myself for weeks leading up to my last retreat about the work left to do, but it ended up paying out ten-fold. I came back renewed and having given myself space to rest I had a lot better ideas for our ministry than I had before I went. I also reflected on the life of my ministry with some great colleagues and found support that I had been missing. What feeds my soul is being creative. I make sure to make time to do things that feed that passion. From reclaiming church language and traditions with young people to simply making a craft, it has made a difference.

I could go on forever about the lessons I’ve learned in self-care, but to quickly sum it up: surround yourself with good people, allow yourself grace when you make a mistake, and stay true to yourself. The most important part of my lessons in self-care though during hard weeks, is to remember that I am called to this ministry. Remembering that I am not in it alone, I’m surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses and that God is here in it with me is one of the most life-giving thoughts that I strive to hold on to.   


shannon_waiteShannon Waite is the Campus Minister at the Campus Christian Community, an ecumenical campus ministry serving the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA.