Merry Christmas, Reverend! Have you recovered yet from all the joys of the season? Did your Christmas Eve worship go okay? Mine did, even though at our biggest service we almost forgot to sing “Silent Night.” Credit is due to the usher who took matters into his own hands, flicked off the lights, and plunged us all into darkness before my boss could give the final blessing. We duly lit our candles and it all worked out fine.
Anyway, now that you’ve endured Christmas, you are probably scavenging around for a New Year’s resolution that doesn’t involve a fad diet. Allow me to suggest that you make this the year to try something new in the professional development department. Over here, I’m going to try a series of monthly posts to alert you to conferences and workshops that are zero, three, six, or nine months away. Let me know if you’re into it.
Good morning, Reverend! Is this a busy week, or what?
Here in my neck of the woods, we’re getting ready for Homecoming Sunday. I am hard at work prepping my sermon, trying to recruit that final leader for seventh-grade Sunday school (why is it always the hardest position in the church to fill?!?!), and counting the days until I get to see my beloved high school youth group kids again.
I have two words about high school youth group: GIANT JENGA.
Actually, I also have a little story. Consider it a pep talk as you launch into this crazy time of year, at least if you are resolutely uncool like me. Continue reading
Hey there, Reverend! I know it’s been a while since I’ve written. If you ever choose to go public with your thoughts about sexual harassment or sexual violence in the church, I suggest building in several months off afterward to deal with all the mail.
On a not wholly unrelated note: I don’t know about you, but I found my seminary training to be a bit lacking in the pastoral counseling department. I did take one class on something called “spiritual care,” during which I learned a great deal about the love lives of my classmates and very little else. If I am ever again in a position to counsel someone who is heartbroken after desertion by a paramour from the back row of Old Testament II: Histories & Prophets, I will be ready to roll.
Somehow, though, I had a feeling that my friends in the mental health field were developing skills a bit more sophisticated than “mirroring” and “active listening.” They were learning to notice their clients’ thinking errors and challenge them, directly but kindly. They were learning how to help people name their struggles and — even more important — start to imagine being able to overcome or endure them. Continue reading
Hey hey, Episcopal seminary seniors! Around the world, Christian clergy are breathing one big collective sigh of relief and thinking, “Now that Christmas has passed, I finally get a break.”
But not you. HA! Oh, not you.
Just an hour from now — maybe a little more than that if you are lucky enough to live on the Best Coast — your travails with the General Ordination Exams will begin.
Before I continue, I should note that my wife frowned when she read my last GOE post and said, “You’re a little too cavalier here.” So if you’re reading this right now, I just want to take a moment to thank you for putting up with the bossy, know-it-all attitude I’ve cultivated on this blog. In real life I’m actually pretty shy.
Meanwhile, if you’re in the final throes of exam prep and are sneaking a peek at this site, here’s a quick roundup of useful links that may come in handy while you’re taking the GOEs. Bookmark this post and you’ll have them all in one place. Continue reading
I try to write this blog in an ecumenical spirit, because
I view all Protestant denominations as basically interchangeable we all serve one Lord, profess one faith, and share one baptism. But I have to take a moment here in cyberspace to give a shout-out to my fellow Episcopalians. Specifically, those who are in their final year of seminary and preparing to square off with the General Ordination Exams.
Hey, friends! You’re feeling a little down lately, huh? Seminary is not nearly as fun as it was two years ago, am I right? You’ve been reading all those depressing studies about gender-based clergy pay discrepancies, haven’t you?
And now, to add insult to injury, you have to spend Advent getting ready for the GOEs.
Life truly is unfair. Continue reading
Hey, everybody. Welcome to new readers, especially those who found their way here from Episcopal Café. It’s been humbling to receive such an outpouring of support in the wake of my last post (although awful to hear such a chorus of affirmation), and especially humbling to hear from those of you who have endured sexual harassment, abuse, or assault. You are not alone, even when the world conspires to make you feel that way.
I’ve been thinking a lot over the last week over the culture of sexual violence in the church — or, more accurately, the culture of sexual violence in the world, which the church has enthusiastically supported for centuries — and what I most need men to understand about it. Not only because men are statistically more likely to be perpetrators and less likely to be targets (although this is also true), but also because, by no coincidence, men are more likely to be in charge.
Listen up, men. You are, overwhelmingly, our rectors and senior pastors. You hold, disproportionately, the positions of highest lay authority on our church boards. You are, with depressingly rare exceptions, our bishops. All the hashtags and social media campaigns in the world aren’t going to make one little dent in the church’s complicity with sexual violence unless you decide you want to do something about it.
Are you ready? Let’s go. Continue reading
Reading through hundreds of #metoo stories this week, I caught myself thinking that I was lucky.
“Lucky” that I have never been sexually abused or raped. “Lucky” that my experiences of sexual harassment have been relatively minor. “Lucky” that I can tell stories about those experiences without traumatic flashbacks or the threat of harm.
If you are a clergy woman or femme reading this blog, you don’t need me to tell you that sexual harassment and assault are problems in the church. You probably got a fresh reminder of that last Sunday, when someone gave you a hug in the receiving line that lasted just a little too long. Continue reading