Bearing Witness and Finding Healing
One of my favorite parts of serving as a pastor is the collaborative nature of the work – just as God created space for all of us to work with God, we also have many opportunities as people to work together. The same holds true among clergy, as I have been lifted up and leaned on by other pastors and ministers over the years in this wild and wondrous calling. Next week, I will go to Dallas to meet with hundreds of other Baptist pastors and ministers, lay leaders and others for CBF’s (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship) annual General Assembly. Aside from the many moments of connecting with old and new friends, mentors and field personnel, I am honored to represent Holmeswood and you all in various spaces. Below are some of the happenings that you are enabling me to be a part of:
- Baptist Women In Ministry annual lunch and gathering
- Children’s Ministry, Youth Ministry and Mission Leaders gatherings
- CBF Heartland regional gathering at First Presbyterian
- Encourager Church and Global Missions breakfast
- Baptist Joint Committee lunch
- Volunteer greeter at evening Worship services
- Truett Seminary alumni reception
- Baptist News Global dinner
And, no, you did not pay for all of these events, ha. Most of them were gifted to me. Yet through your ongoing commitment to your clergy, we have moments to restore, reconnect and to learn through professional development opportunities. You make these moments possible, and the collaboration continues. In fact, one of my pastor friends from Portland now lives in Dallas and served at First Presbyterian; our CBF Heartland group needed a venue for our annual gathering, and she offered beautiful, free space for us to meet! When we are open and authentic, I have found that friends and kind people offer the exact thing we need at the exact moment. Holmeswood certainly regularly helps in this way, too. (Insert Heartland Camp and July’s mission trip!)
One last thing to share: just as each of our lives has been turned upside down and inside out from the effects of a global pandemic, so has our church leadership and helpers. In fact, Rev. Dr. Pam Durso (our summer preacher and President of Central Seminary in Shawnee, KS) and Rev. Dr. Carol McEntyre (Senior Pastor of First Baptist, Columbia, MO) quickly realized that colleagues in ministry were leaving the church in droves permanently in a time of seemingly temporary challenges. They quickly gathered data from Baptist pastors and peers who had resigned during the pandemic and will share these findings at CBF General Assembly in Dallas next week. You can read more about their findings in Baptist News Global’s 4-part feature: https://baptistnews.com/article/leaving-church-so-many-baptist-resignations/#.YrIr1nbMK3A.
My clergy friend, Courtney Stamey (Senior Pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Clinton, MS), and I have also been disturbed and disheartened by so many wonderful clergy friends leaving church for good in the last couple of years. So, in the spirit of collaboration, we are offering a workshop at General Assembly called “Bearing Witness and Finding Healing,” a space for clergy and lay leadership to come and share, heal a bit and take some tools back home to continue the healing process. Please pray for us that we can be fully present for those whose stories are difficult and painful to share; also, pray as Courtney preaches in Worship and offers her powerful voice in a difficult time. I could not be prouder to be a part of a great cloud of witnesses who love God and each other, whether we label ourselves Baptist or Christian or simply beloved. Because that is what we are, beloved by the Christ who knows about pain and suffering, while also turning to a God who offers hope and healing every single day.
COMING UP: The Heroes Picnic! Please bring a friend or neighbor for this fun event. = )
Sunday, June 26 at 11:30 am. Come hungry and bring a side, if you’d like.