Greetings from New York! Writing this e-pistle I can’t help but feel the spirit of Paul’s letters, greeting fellow disciples from afar – so in that spirit, let me begin by saying grace to you and peace from God!
While it has been a few years since I have seen most of you, I remain a Member-in-Discernment at Old First and in the Philadelphia Association/PSEC. Part of my responsibility to you is to keep you updated on my progress in discernment of my call to ministry and steps towards consideration for ordination. So here goes a brief summary of what I have been doing and what I have learned through each event:
I moved to New York about 2 ½ years ago (where does the time go!?). I have learned that sometimes the spirit calls you to places you would never go voluntarily. A midwesterner by birth and at heart, I was surprised to find myself moving here without much trepidation for a job opportunity for my husband, Dan. Without this move, I don’t know that I would have found myself in seminary, as a serendipitous series of connections led me to Union.
I have completed 2 of the 3 years of the Masters of Divinity program at Union Theological Seminary. Not only have I acquainted myself with the different theories of the origins and compilation of the Hebrew Bible and learned from my diverse classmates about the differences between Evangelicals and Pentecostals and Charismatics (but please don’t quiz me on that!), but I have gotten to reflect on the deep history and tradition that we inherit and carry on. It is both humbling and empowering to know that what we attempt to do together as a church – to find meaning and understanding, to care for one another and the world, and to seek justice and peace – is a tradition deep enough to withstand any mistakes we make and wide enough to make room for new experiences and experiments!
Last year I had the opportunity to work at Greenpoint Reformed Church in Brooklyn as an intern. This wonderful community was generous enough to give me the opportunity to try on ministry, and to discover that I really like it! It also gave me the perspective of an open and affirming church within a denomination (the RCA) that is not open and affirming – and made me deeply grateful to have been raised and be a part of the UCC.
This summer I am doing Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE – chaplaincy training) through Jewish Theological Seminary. I am working at a non-profit agency that provides housing, social services and support to older adults in New York. So far I have been learning a lot about Judaism from the other students in the program, and learning how to talk about faith with diverse seniors of many faiths (one conversation group had 5 religions in attendance!).
Lastly, I am expecting my first child at the beginning of September! I think that preparing for childbirth and motherhood may be a bit like preparing for ministry – the books and the classes are essential and helpful, but ultimately nothing can prepare you. Instead, it is best to surrender to some of the mystery, have faith, rejoice in new life that may use you as a vessel and give thanks for the community that supports you through it!
I hope that I may see some of you at General Synod in a few weeks – please let me know if you will be there! And if I don’t see you in person anytime soon, know that I am so grateful for your continued support and accompaniment on this journey.