Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Light Emerging

It's been a long road getting here. I'm now a little over a month into my first pastorate. It hasn't been easy at all. It's a good church, don't get me wrong, but there have just been a lot of things to adjust to.

It's quite a transition going from serminary, where collegues abound, to being the solo pastor at a church, where there are no collegues. And it hasn't been made easier by the conference structures. I wasn't assigned a clergy mentor until this week. And the Residence In Ministry group, for clergy in their first or second years, hasn't yet started. And the Colloquay group of clergy in my area is off for the summer. It really would have been nice to have a little more support in the first weeks and months, but apparently that is not how it works. I haven't been completely abandoned, I've had a visit from the DS and a call from the Bishop, but it would have been nice to have the at least one of those three support systems in place right from the start.

And it's been a little lonely here. The church is aging. There really isn't anyone there my age at all. There a less than a handful of youth, and then there are some 40-somethings. And the town of Coos Bay is in about the same shape. It is aging rapidly, and I don't even know where I'd go looking for friends. I was desperate enough to actually go to the mall the other, just to be around younger people, but it didn't help much.

On top of that, I've been in a bit of a spiritual funk. Part of it is moving into full-time pastorate, I'm sure. If I attend any religious service, chances are that I'm leading it, so it's not often all the spiritually filling. And I'm been struggling with my own personal prayer disciplines. And I've just been questioning my call. Pastoring is a lot of hard work, and it's a minefield of mistakes. And with that idealistic, seminarian mind, I had a lot of preasure to "succeed", which by my working definition was probably nothing less than ushering in the Kingdom of God. :-)

So now I'm feeling a little more realistic. I'm feeling good about some of things that are going on here. I've had a few personal successes. I can see some of the new life sprouting forth in the congregation. And I feel more supported. My personal prayers are starting to feel like they mean something again. It's only been about 28 hours, but I'm actually feeling good about the situation, good about life Praise God. And hopefully that can last for a little while before the next major trial comes along.


Blogger Court said...

Hello my friend! So you need to call me I do believe...I called your cell the other day and left a message...should I try elsewhere? Whats best? I miss you guys! And I feel whats goin on!

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

It seems like teaching and pastoring (for lack of a better term) are very similar in several ways - mainly that they grab you after graduate school and stick you in a full time position with varying levels of support. There are very few other professions where society expects you to just pick up and run on your own - they all provide varying levels of support to new practitioners.

So I hope as those support systems fall into place things get easier for you. But also know that you can call us any time. If you need me to go slap the bishop around, I can do that too. Just kidding...

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I am not in my own church, I have been left to learn "by fire" at my FE site more than once. So having no support is something I've experienced for short periods of time. But the lonliness and anxiousness of it all is still very much the same. I can only imagine what it feels like for a long period of time. My heart goes out to you and I pray that things continue to get better and that you gain new confidence in your call. If you need anything, call or write.


10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doooood! Glad to hear from you again, and glad that you can write about the struggles, though of course I'm sorry for your discomfort.

I've been thinking about you quite a lot this past month.

I'm crazy about Rock Springs, and things are going well. And I am fortunate in being ancient and having done a good many things, and in tending temperamentally to start out wherever I am in a totally-there kind of way. I don't worry much about making mistakes as such, since I'm going to. I just try to choose the *sorts* mistakes I'll make.

And yet I have periodically felt as if I hadn't the faintest notion what I was supposed to do. It's been brief, because I could remind myself that beyond certain obvious basics, I am to make it up as I go along. But it is still a quavery and uncomfortable feeling.

I've been thinking about the vast gulf between seminary and being pastor-in-charge in a church. I suspect that internships are supposed to fill that gap, but I don't think most of us have those sorts of internships, nor those sorts of supervisors.

And I've been thinking about how particualrly difficult this must often be for Young Persons. And I thought about you, and thought, "David is a Young Person, but he is unusually well prepared. Still, I hope he's doing okay. I wish he'd blog, though."

I hadn't thought specifically about the summer thing, but I believe you're quite right about that. I am trying to resurrect an accountability group in my area-- at least two of the three possible others are up for it, but we'll see. Just busy-ness makes it difficult. I heard from my mentor last week as well. I don't know him at all-- not even by repute-- and he's 250 miles away in Grand Junction. No word form our Bishop, not surprisingly.

My D.S., whom I like very much, stopped in on my first Sunday to give the congregtion What-For about pastoral authority, from Romans 13. This struck me as extremely funny, which was probably the optimal reaction from the point of view of congregational relations. :D

And I was at my first RIM event Monday and Tuesday. The matter of the sessions wasn't all that for me, but seeing friends and acquaintances and having so much childfree time to do some research was Bliss and a half. :D

As Cara says of herself, I'm here. Same cell phone number as before. I'll email Data shortly. And, you know, I'll appreciate keeping in touch with you for my own support, as well as for Sheer Wicked Pleasure.

Love, Mary Ann

Say, how are you handling all the Bread of Life this month? I'm agglomerating them a week from Sunday for one sermon on communion, and having an extra eucharist, and preaching largely-Hebrew-Bible the other weeks....

10:58 AM  

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