“You’ve spent your time in seminary developing your voice, now it’s time to see what you do with it.”-Wayne Meisel
I graduated on May 17, 2014 with a Master of Divinity. Only a week prior had I decided that I would stay to study another year at Union. With the promise of working with faculty members who have changed my life, and encouraged on a new academic trajectory, I was excited to walk across the stage with enough certainty to celebrate the accomplishments of finishing a masters, and enough faith that the other details of my life will fall into place—like, how I’ll pay rent.
About the time of graduation I was asked if I wanted to participate in the New Faces of Ministry Tour. I had no idea what it meant or what it would ask of me; I just said “yes.” To the surprise of my boss, I asked no critical questions. There are many times in my life when my spirit intercepts the analysis of my brain and makes a verbal agreement—usually an agreement that makes no “logical” sense at the time. I quickly learned that the tour I agreed to participate in would mean me traveling around with another recent seminary grad to talk with folks at camps and in service corps about their commitments to service and how their faith informs such a commitment. From New York to Ohio we would drive, stopping along the way to introduce ourselves to teams of staffers and camp directors, and listening to stories about why people care enough about others, and themselves, to serve. The following week I met Sammie, a recent Princeton grad and my travel partner. With only a week before our departure date we were both relieved that we clicked right away. One’s mind needn’t be filled with the scenes from ridiculous movies to imagine the myriad ways that a road trip with a stranger could go awry. So, together we left. Prepared with a list of meetings scattered through four states, smartphones with Google Maps, car chargers, and playlists to last for days, Sammie and I have embarked on a unique journey.
It’s the newest trend in “church talk”…the anxiety and fear of dying and becoming irrelevant in a world that is so obviously in need of love and healing. What this conversation has been lacking is the insight into the evolutions of church. We hear whispers of the new ways of doing church. People meeting in coffee shops and bars, ordaining their own leaders, moving worship out of the sanctuary and into the streets where the people are. It is becoming clearer that what looks like a decreasing interest in church may actually be an increasing interest in meeting others in practical and meaningful ways. The New Faces of Ministry Tour sets out to meet with summer camps and service corps to participate in a changing understanding of what “ministry” means. In pairs, we’ll traverse different regions of the Midwest and East Coast to lead workshops that reveal these new ways of understanding how service and faith intersect to cultivate ministry. We’ll lead devotionals with the hope of connecting with staff teams and, together, learning how we can support one another in the work we commit ourselves to. Primarily, we’ll be traveling to listen to stories, in order to experience the sacred texts being created in the daily lives of the neighbors all around us, always produced and rarely published. We will, inevitably, learn that the “new” in all of this is really the “unveiling” of the world we’ve been called to serve.
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