I have been at Easter for one year. I officially started on May 1, 2017, so today is the last day of my first year. Moments like these offer a good opportunity for reflection and introspection. Here is a mind map that attempts to mark the significant events in my professional and personal life over the last year.
I am so thankful to God for the invitation from Pastor Kris, the call committee and the Vision Board to serve as the Pastor of Family Faith at Easter. It is an honor to work beside such a talented pastoral team and staff. I am honored to work directly with an amazing Children, Youth, and Family team. Rachelle, Hans, Sarah, Deb, Jason, and Allison bring together a dynamic passion for children and families and a wonderful complement of gifts and talents that make this team truly awesome to serve.
It has been a steep learning curve for me this year. There are three major areas in which I work on a weekly basis.
The first is the supervision of the CYF staff. Each of them have a large and dynamic ministry with hundreds of children in JAM (Jesus And Me) every week and a vast network of middle school and high school students involved in leadership, service, and Faith formation in various ways. My job is to bring them together, make sure they are equipped and cared for, and all moving in the same direction.
The second is my direct responsibility to lead the Confirmation program. I inherited a wonderful and complex system that has taken me the full year to actually understand. We had over 50 adult mentors and over 250 students involved in the program between 7th – 10th grades. I did not intend to make changes in my first year, but many factors last summer pressed us to make some big changes in the Fall: We started a Wednesday night worship service called The Table, led by our High School band; moved the 7th-8th grade program to every Wednesday night; put the 9th and 10th grade program to Sunday afternoons, like the COGS meetings had been; and eliminated the 4:30 Wednesday Church school option by offering a Wednesday night JAM and and Adult Bible Study after the Table concurrent with Confirmation. Wednesday nights are now for EVERYBODY!
The third area in which I work is preaching. I preached slightly more than half the weeks in this year. We record a weekly podcast that discusses the worship theme. Plus, Pastor Kris asked me to create an illustration for every week’s theme to be printed in the Grow Guide.
Those are the major, weekly things I do. Additionally, there are pre-marital counseling, weddings, pastor on call emergencies, hospital visits, and funerals that cannot be planned.
I have also been co-processing two other areas of my professional life this year. One is Academic, the other is artistic.
My academic life is a bit of a potpourri. I completed a PhD in Missional Leadership at Luther Seminary in 2015. Since then I have been involved in two Academic Guilds, made presentations at various venues, taught two courses at Luther Seminary, and been a reader for several Doctor of Ministry Theses. These activities require me to write academic articles, read, travel, and interact with scholars and practitioners from around the world.
My artistic life is the one that is most perplexing to me. Art is my passion. It has been my sole source of income at various moments in my life. Now I try to incorporate it into my ministry as much as possible. Easter graciously invited me to display some of my work in the art gallery on the Hill last fall. That was an honor. I spent last October involved in #inktober where the challenge is to create an original pen and ink drawing every day in the month of October. I am also working on completing the second novel in the Nectar Trilogy.
Two months ago things took a turn that I did not expect. Pastor Kris took a medical leave for an indefinite period of time. I wish her the best and pray that she finds the healing she needs. This has left all of us in a state of limbo, wondering what will happen next.
One thing I know for sure. This has been a full and interesting year. I thank all of you who subscribe to my blog. Thank you for reading, for sharing, and for providing feedback. The tagline of my blog is Following the Cloud. This helps me to remember that I am not in charge of my life. God is the active agent, moving ahead of us, inviting us to follow into unexpected places. It is a grand adventure and I’m glad to be a part of it.
Here is a gallery of all the artwork I created in the last year, both for personal and teaching purposes. Enjoy.