Pastor’s Corner (9/9/2021)
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the new “Seminarians in Residence” at First Christian Church, so Pastor Karen asked if I could guest author the Pastor’s Corner this week to tell you a little more about my program. As some of you may know, I am entering into my fourth year in the Master of Divinity program at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, OK. At Phillips, we spend our first two years in introductory courses like Intro to Theology, Intro to the Hebrew Bible, and Christian History I & II. I really enjoyed all of these classes, and felt like they prepared me for the upper-level material coming up. My third year, I spent time diving deeper into certain books of the bible; my books were 2 Samuel from the Hebrew Bible and the Gospel of Matthew from the New Testament. I also dabbled, poorly, in New Testament Greek.
All of this was to prepare me for my fourth year of seminary, where I will now focus on pastoral leadership and ministry. My courses include the Theology of Public Worship, Pastoral Leadership and Administration, and a Senior Capstone in Leadership. These are in addition to my Supervised Year in Ministry. Together, they are meant to give me the education and experience I would need if I choose to go into parish ministry after graduation.
I wanted to share with all of you a little more about my Supervised Year of Ministry program, seeing as I will be performing my ministry with you all here at FCC. Phillips has a **lengthy** handbook on how we are to proceed through our year, including lots of forms (read Form A through Form H) that we will be recording throughout the year. My first order of business was to choose a mentor and a suitable ministry site. Of course, my ministry site will be here at First Christian. Some of you may know my mentor as well, Rev. Patrick Messer, now living in Kentucky. My next task was to choose members of First Christian to be a part of my On-Site Reflector Team. This is a team of volunteers who will meet with me periodically throughout the year to give me useful feedback on my ministry. My team consists of Pastor Karen, Jim Blosser, Cecilia Burkhart, and Wayne Duncan. Thank you again to my team for being a part of my journey.
We are tasked to perform ten hours of ministry a week for our thirteen-week semester, for a total of one hundred and thirty hours of ministry in the first semester. In our second semester (January – May) we are asked to perform five hours of ministry per week and five hours of service with a community organization. It is my hope to perform these hours with The Lighthouse after school program, mentoring kids and helping with snacks/dinner. Education is part of my heart for ministry, and The Lighthouse is in First Christian’s neighborhood. Ideally, I hope we’ll create a relationship with one another that can benefit us all!
In addition to the ministry requirement of the Supervised Year in Ministry, we also have a classroom portion. I attend this class live on Zoom on Tuesday afternoons. We have different papers and reflections that we do along the way, giving us a chance to really think about the importance of the ministerial tasks we are doing. The first paper we write is a Learning Covenant, which specifically sets out our learning goals for the year. Some of the goals I chose for myself include growing in spirituality, discerning my ministerial values, conducting congregational analysis, and leading critical conversations in the church.
For people who know me, you know that I am more of a head person than a heart person. This is an area of my life and ministry I want to focus on. I am also in the process of writing and refining a ministerial mission statement, a measuring stick from which I can gauge if my ministry is on track or not. With the help of the staff and board, I would like to conduct some congregational analysis of First Christian. We can’t deny that our demographics are changing, and some statistical data of the church can help us make smart decisions moving forward. In the same vein, this information may lead to some critical conversations that need to happen in the congregation. Between attendance, the budget, and a lack of new leadership, we have several issues that need to be addresses in a faithful and loving way.
From now until May 2022, you can look for me to preach on the last Sunday of each month. I’ll be in each liturgical season, which is great experience for me. I will also be offering adult education classes, starting with the Gospel of Matthew (which started yesterday). Classes for the spring have not yet been decided, but I’m sure we’ll find something great to study together.
Thank you again to everyone for supporting me through my time of ministerial discernment. I appreciate all of the kind words and feedback that I have received, and look forward to our time together in my new role.
With hope for a bright and productive year,