Sunday, January 31, 2016

Recorded Minister Report for 2015

My soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning.
Psalm 130:6

Looking back over this year, it is helpful for me to separate it into three seasons.  In the spring, I finished my second year of Contextual Education through Candlereight hours a week of being involved in the life of Atlanta Friends Meeting.  My main focus was on the meeting’s Gathered Meeting Retreat, which took place the last weekend of March.  The theme was “How Friends Worship.”  I was glad to have the opportunity to lead this retreat; it felt like a good use of my gifts.  I continued to facilitate monthly mid-week worship at Candler.  I also served on various committees at Atlanta Friends Meeting, including the Worship and Ministry committee, an anchoring committee, and clearness and wedding committees.  I finished my time as the chaplain of Sacred Worth (the LGBTQ Candler student group), and helped organize the Sacred Worth week on Trans*forming Christianity, where we celebrated the gifts of trans Christians.

Over the summer, I worked for ten weeks as the pastoral intern of First Friends Meeting, an FUM meeting in Greensboro, NC.  I was able to experience many aspects of pastoral ministry, including helping with four weddings, a memorial, and two baby blessings. I also

preached in programmed worship, worked in the office, went on pastoral visits, and organized Quaker Eights groups.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed pastoral ministry, and how it brings together my gifts of vocal ministry, pastoral care, and administration.  It was also wonderful to connect with Friends from other meetings during my time in Greensboro.

In the fall, I returned to Atlanta for my final year at Candler.  Now that I have finished my Contextual Education obligations in the meeting, this has been a good time for me to discern what I feel called to do and what to let go.  I joined the Friends Journal Board of Trustees and traveled to Philadelphia for my first board meeting.  I took some interesting and challenging classes, including Ecclesiology, which gave me an opportunity to think about Friends’ practices and structures, and a class on Religion, Sexuality, and Reproductive Health, which was cross-listed with Emory’s school of public health.  I experienced a lot of changes in my life: I started a new relationship, had to leave my apartment, and I got a car.  The changes have been mostly very good, but I am still adjusting.

Letting things go has continued to be a good spiritual practice for me.  I withdrew from a class this year for the first time in my academic career, and I am not planning on taking the second semester of Hebrew; instead, I plan to focus on my thesis.  My support network is
good: I meet monthly with a spiritual director and am part of a spiritual nurture group that
meets twice a month.  I met regularly with members of my anchoring committee in the spring, but have not been as consistent this past fall.  I have found self-care practices that work for me, including exercise, drawing and coloring mandalas, and singing in choirs, and I have recently started playing more board games.

Looking ahead, the biggest thing on the horizon is graduation in May.  I am actively seeking employment for after graduation.  In December, I spent a weekend interviewing and preaching for a semi-programmed FUM meeting that is looking for a full-time pastor.  The search committee and I are in discernment, and I should know more in January.  I feel like my classes this semester are preparing me for pastoral ministry: I am taking classes on Conflict Transformation, Preaching, and a practica on Weddings, Funerals, and Confirmation.  I am trying to be open and embrace the new things ahead in the coming year.

Thank you for your support and prayers.