Created, Claimed and Called

One hundred Disciples women created sacred space at Bethany Hills September 17th and 18th. Dew covered grass, rocking chairs, and crisp fall air defined our sanctuary. We worshiped together. We prayed together. We listened to one another.

The Reverend Amy Gopp, executive director of Week of Compassion, keynoted our retreat. She repeated this mantra: As Disciples women, we are: CREATED by God, CLAIMED by God, and CALLED by God…We are created, claimed and called… created… claimed… called.

She repeated these words until we finally believed this present yet ancient truth about ourselves.

Reverend Amy brought us to The Congo, where women thirst for empowerment and education and independence.

Reverend Amy re-introduced us to Hagar- a woman who fought to be named and remembered by God.

Reverend Amy painted a picture of the needs across God’s world as farmers strive for fair trading, artisans work hard for living wages, war zones thirst for peaceful resolution, and our very earth is crying out for more mission, more service, and more compassion.

Reverend Amy wove us together as a united body of Disciples through her prophetic call to action: serve the world where your great gladness meets the world’s great needs.

Marena McDonald, Linda Craig, Jennifer Netherton and I represented Lindenwood well. We started relationships with Disciples women across our region and we began to dream about our distinct call in the world. Where will Lindenwood serve God’s people? How will we bring our great joys and offerings to our brothers and sisters?

On that holy ground of dew covered grass, rocking chairs, and crisp fall air, we filled up on the gospel that we are created, claimed, and called by God, and now, it’s time to get to work.

 Next year, let’s have one hundred times one hundred women at this retreat so that we can bring our great gladness to the world’s great needs.

 

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My Bethany Fellowship

During the last week of September, I will travel to St. Louis, Missouri for five days of prayer, reflection, support and growth among 40 young Disciples clergy. This will be my first Bethany Fellowships retreat. The Bethany Fellowship Program has supported young Disciples clergy for the past ten years. The fellowship is available through a process of recommendation and invitation for young ministers at the start of their journey.  After General Assembly, both Andrew and I were invited to participate in this four year fellowship program. I hope Lindenwood will celebrate this opportunity along with me.

This is what the fellowship will look like: twice a year, we will travel to a new city with 40+ young clergy for a retreat. On these retreats, we will stay in a retreat center or monastery.  We will spend a day studying the best practices of a thriving congregation. We will spend 24 hours in silent retreat, and we will break out into small groups to reflect on our own ministry. The Bethany Fellowships program was created to serve congregations by helping newly ordained pastors transition from seminary into sustained congregational ministry with a strong and healthy identity.  Bethany Fellowships serves as a resource for young clergy to learn about self-care strategies, best ministerial practices, and sustainable habits as pastors.

Studies show that we, the Disciples of Christ, have a 30% drop out rate among our young clergy in their first five years of ministry. The work of ministry is complex and dynamic with a steep learning curve. The Bethany Fellowships seeks to educate young clergy about maintaining joy throughout a lifetime of ministry.

I look forward to this St. Louis trip. I look forward to fellowship and learning. I look forward to sharing about all my joy at Lindenwood Christian Church. And most of all- I look forward to learning more about my call as a minister, my gifts as a pastor, and my long term plans to help Lindenwood thrive. I know this fellowship will provide me with the tools for this learning. For more information about the Bethany Fellowships program, check out: www.bethanyfellowships.org.

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