What Nobody Tells You Before You Start Seminary, Part 3: Field Education and Internships

Field ed: the best and worst part of the seminary experience. I completed three field education placements while I was in divinity school — Clinical Pastoral Education at a big hospital, a very traditional seminarian internship at a church, and a not-so-traditional case management internship at a teen health clinic. Here’s what I learned, or in some cases watched my classmates learn, in the process.

Field education is like a real job.

This will not surprise you if you’ve ever had one. However, it did surprise some (not all) of my classmates who had come to seminary directly from undergrad. So, at the risk of insulting your intelligence, I am here to tell you:

Treat your field ed placement like a real job. Dress professionally. Show up on time. Work hard at the tasks to which you are assigned, and accept that there will be parts that are boring or difficult, because that is how having a job works.

And yet …

Field education is not like a real job.

Not only because you get paid basically nothing, although that is one depressing reason. But the more important reason is that, unlike the primary function of a real job, the primary function of field education is to educate you.

Yes, if you are any good, the organization you serve will benefit from your presence. However, in exchange for your almost-free labor, you are owed constructive supervision, adequate support, and a portfolio of tasks that will teach you something.

This is not to say you won’t have to take your turn making coffee and emptying out the paper shredder bin. But if you find that ALL you’re doing are mindless office tasks, or conversely that you’re being asked to do work for which you are underqualified and untrained, bring this up with your supervisor. That’s not what you’re there for.

After you’ve completed your required placements, get creative if you’re in the mood.

The ordination process in my denomination required me to complete CPE and a church internship, but I had room for one more field ed placement after that. I wanted to get some experience with case management, and I found a match at an LGBTQ teen health clinic. My year there taught me so many skills that have come in handy in my life as a priest — everything from how to schedule a free consult with an immigration attorney (spoiler alert: it is a huge pain in the neck and you will have to wait months) to how to accompany a scared patient to a doctor’s visit (spoiler alert: just be a calm presence and discreetly offer to take notes, especially if the doctor is delivering bad news).

Is there some local organization doing the work of your dreams? Reach out during the spring prior to the academic year when you want to intern for them, and ask if they’d consider taking on a seminarian. The worst they can say is no.

If you intern at a federal work-study site but are not federal work-study eligible, you may not get paid at all.

Religious organizations (churches and some church-run nonprofits) CANNOT be federal work-study sites, which is good news for you if you’re not eligible for work-study. Health care facilities and secular nonprofits can usually pay interns with work-study funds, and may decline to pay you if you’re not work-study eligible.

If this is confusing to you, make an appointment with your school’s financial aid officer to talk about it. Just trust me.

Choose your field education site based on the quality of the supervisor.

Sure, every site is unique. But let’s be real: the way you will experience your site as an intern is not that unique. At a church, your tasks will involve liturgy, preaching, maybe education or outreach. At a hospital, you will visit sick people. At a nonprofit, you will sit under fluorescent lights and try to print reports from a computer that is running Windows 3.1.

What will make or break your experience is your supervisor. A great one can make even a tough experience positive; a bad one can make an otherwise great experience miserable. Before signing any contracts, always meet with your prospective supervisor in person and see if you click.

If your supervisor is inexperienced, you will need to work harder to get the most out of your time in field education.

Your new supervisor might be a truly excellent pastor/chaplain/executive who has never supervised a seminarian before. The odds are good that this person also has the potential to become a truly excellent supervisor. But it won’t happen automatically. Someone has to be the guinea pig. Oh boy, is it you?!?! Lucky you!

Here are a few examples of things you may need to communicate — gently — to a brand-new field education supervisor:

  • Your school expects you to commit X number of hours per week to field education, including travel time to and from the site. This means that your (e.g.) 15 hours are actually more like 12.
  • If your supervisor is late with certain items of necessary paperwork, they can really screw up your life (for example, you find you cannot apply to graduate because your seminary has not received your final evaluation for field ed). *
  • Weekly supervision meetings are, in most cases, not negotiable. You must have them, and they must last an hour. If your supervisor has to cancel a meeting, they need to find a time to reschedule.
  • You are a seminary intern, which means that supervision is a time for theological reflection. If your new supervisor is not a religious professional (or sometimes even if they are), they might be uncomfortable talking about the spiritual dimensions of your work. If you would like supervision sessions to open with a prayer, or if you want to talk about how God is using you in your field education work, you may have to bring that up yourself.

* Should you find that your supervisor is a little spacey, suggest that you devote an hour of supervision time to sitting there with your laptops and completing your respective evaluation forms. That way, you can make sure everything gets done.

If you find that things are a bit rocky with your supervisor, or at your site generally, go to someone in your seminary’s field education office. Because …

Your field education office is there to help you.

Anyone at your school who’s ever had a bad field ed experience is bound to smack-talk the field ed office, which means that field ed offices are subject to a lot of smack talk. Don’t take it all at face value. In that office, there is almost definitely someone who will listen to your concerns and help you solve your field ed problems.

Some examples of good times to get the field ed office involved include:

  • Your supervisor is laid off or goes on an unexpected medical leave.
  • Your supervisor has no-showed three supervision meetings in a row.
  • You spend a lot of time at your field ed site sitting around the office with nothing to do.
  • You were promised that your placement would include preaching opportunities, but it’s the end of March and no such opportunities have materialized.
  • A parishioner/client/staff member at the site touched you in a creepy way, and your supervisor blew you off when you brought it up.
  • Your paycheck has been “in the mail” for two months now and you’re starting to get suspicious.
  • You’re being pressured to work way more than your contracted number of hours per week.
  • You’re being pressured to ignore standard safety precautions (e.g., always having two adults in a room where children are present, or wearing gloves and a face mask while visiting contagiously ill patients), which I wish I could tell you never happens.

This bears restating in bold font:

When you have a problem at your field ed site, get the field ed office involved BEFORE you reach a crisis point.

Not after you’ve gone four months without a supervision meeting. Not after you’ve contracted TB because “it scares patients when we wear face masks.” Not after your grades have started to suffer because you’re spending 30 hours per week at your site instead of the contracted twelve.

BEFORE. Reach out to the field ed office BEFORE you’re in crisis. If you don’t get a good response from the first staff member you speak to, make an appointment with a different one. If you truly have bad luck with every single person in the office, talk to your academic advisor or (when applicable) your Title IX officer. Rally those troops. These kinds of problems are not made for you to solve alone.

But take heart, because …

Field education can be the most transformative part of your seminary experience.

I’ve already forgotten a lot of what I studied in seminary, including everything I read by Gregory the Great and most of the timeline of the authorship of the letters of Paul. But I have not forgotten how to plan a worship service, or help someone apply for a bus pass, or sit quietly with a person as they die. All these things are things I learned from field education.

Field ed is all about real people and real problems, which makes it sometimes frustrating, but also infinitely valuable to your formation for ministry. I hope your experience of it is wonderful. If not, drop me a line, and we can commiserate.

Or, really, talk to someone in your field ed office. I swear they know what’s up.

What Nobody Tells You Before You Start Seminary, Part 2: Cash Money Dolla Dolla Bill Y’all

Money: If you are answering God’s call to a vocation in ministry, you are probably not going to have a lot of it. Still, even in graduate school, there is no reason to be more broke than necessary.

If you’re looking for a holistic framework for thinking about money from a Christian perspective, Boston University is offering a cool-sounding free online course in Faith and Finance that starts next week. Here, all you’ll find is a handful of lessons I learned courtesy of experience, my least favorite teacher.

Before I get any further, a disclaimer: No thanks to my own talents, I was super mega lucky with respect to finances in seminary. I had an employed spouse, zero dependents, and robust financial aid. Our household was carrying no consumer debt and a manageable amount of student debt. And I was still worried about money.

If your present straits are more dire, please know that I am not sharing the following advice in the spirit of finger-wagging or suggesting that lattes are the reason you’re poor. So much about our financial circumstances is beyond our control … so here is my small offering of things you CAN control in order to worry just a little bit less.

If money is an issue for you, apply to a whole bunch of schools because financial aid offers can vary by orders of magnitude.

When I entered the ordination process, I sat down with my bishop, and together we made a list of prospective seminary options that were Catherine-tested and bishop-approved. Because my wife and I are (alas) not rich beyond the dreams of avarice, I applied to every single one, then sat back and compared the aid packages they offered me.

One school was struggling financially and not in a position to give me any money at all. Yuck.

Another offered me a 50% tuition discount. Blah.

A third handed me full tuition, fees, and an annual stipend. BINGO.

And that is how I managed to scuttle out of seminary debt-free.

… Just kidding! My stipend was nowhere near enough to keep me fed and housed in Boston, one of the most expensive cities in the country. My seminary adventure also began with a hella expensive cross-country move. I had the great luck of a spouse who easily found a job when we relocated, but unfortunately she is a teacher and not an investment banker, so I still had to hustle. However …

There are so many (legal) ways to make extra cash in seminary.

Here are a few of the things I did for money while I was in divinity school, or wish I had:

  • Work at a church. If you have the skills to be a part-time youth minister, musician, or office assistant, there is a church out there that wants you on their staff. Most regional denominational bodies have job posting pages on their web sites (for example, here is mine). The spring before I started seminary, I drafted a cover letter for the hypothetical youth ministry position I hoped to find and checked this page every single day. My eventual boss was surprised to receive my application minutes after the job was posted, and somehow chose to interpret this as evidence that I was detail-oriented and responsible, rather than evidence that I was a compulsive freak. Thanks, boss!
  • Babysit/nanny. Some schools (like my alma mater) make this easy by offering databases where people who need child care can connect with people who want to provide it. I charged $20 an hour, and I got so many requests that I had to turn a lot of prospective employers away.
  • Teach a test prep class. I taught one SAT prep course for Kaplan and it frankly made me pretty miserable, but I hear better reports from people who have worked with other test-prep companies. The money’s not great but not terrible, and teaching is fun even if the sole purpose of your class is to reinforce the achievement gap.
  • Participate in psychology studies. Are you at or near a research university? No? How about a big hospital? If you Google “[name of school] psychology study,” you’ll find out how to join the study pool. (Some business and management schools offer paid studies, too.) My divinity school was right next door to the university’s psych research facility, so I made a habit of moseying over there a couple of times a week. Sometimes I spent fifteen minutes looking at colored dots on a computer screen before a student assistant handed me $10 in cash. Sometimes I got MRIs of my brain, which paid well because most people are too claustrophobic to lie in an MRI machine for three hours. I made Excel spreadsheets of my memories and rated how strongly I felt about them. I memorized long strings of nonsense words. I played little gambling games. It was honestly sort of fun.
  • Write freelance articles. Be wary of publications that just want to give you “exposure.” If you write well enough to get into graduate school, you write well enough to get paid for your work.
  • Get into the tutoring pool at an independent (private) school. If you are fluent in a commonly taught foreign language, are exceptionally patient at explaining math problems, or are fabulously organized and enjoy helping teenagers organize all their files in Google Drive, consider becoming a tutor. If you have prior teaching or tutoring experience, so much the better. Use the National Association of Independent Schools directory to look up independent schools in your area, then search for “[name of school] learning center” or “[name of school] tutoring.” Send your resume and a brief letter explaining your qualifications to each school’s learning center director and see what happens. Some experienced tutors in wealthy areas command over $100 per hour. I’m just saying.
  • Become an outdoor facilitator. I love being outside and once spent a summer directing a ropes course. Instead of teaching that crappy SAT class, I wish I had signed up to lead outdoor adventures with my local Girl Scout council, which is literally always recruiting adventure facilitators. If this kind of gig appeals to you, check local Girl Scout and Boy Scout employment postings, look for openings through the Association for Challenge Course Technology, or search out the ropes courses and rock climbing gyms in your area and see if they’re hiring.
  • Cash in an AmeriCorps education award. If you are sitting on one of these (shout-out to my fellow AmeriCorps alums), do not let it expire! Even if your term of AmeriCorps service was six years ago and you have no idea how to get your hands on that sweet sweet award cash, take heart. It’s actually pretty easy, as long as you can remember your Social Security number.
  • Apply for one gazillion tiny regional scholarships. Because …

Patching together a bunch of tiny scholarships can make a real difference.

$500 might not seem like much against the staggering weight of tuition, but it can mean the difference between giving the financial aid office money at the end of the term and getting some back. At the end of my last semester of divinity school, when I got an ominous email saying “pay your last bill or we won’t let you graduate,” I checked my tuition account balance and was pleased to find out that I had come out exactly $42 ahead. I’m not making that up for all you Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fans. It is, somehow, true.

A few quick searches will turn up a bunch of scholarship options, such as:

And that’s not even counting the many, many denominational scholarships out there. Give up a couple of hours and fill out all the applications. The worst anyone can tell you is no.

Changing your course of study can mess with your financial aid.

THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT.

If you enter seminary as a Master of Theological Studies student, then suddenly discover a previously latent ministerial vocation burning deep in your soul, go ahead and switch to a Master of Divinity. It might be a great idea.

But! Talk to a financial aid officer first!

If you are the recipient of a special named scholarship designated for a student who is pursuing an MTS in Pastafarian Studies, and then you drop that MTS like a hot rock, you may find that you drop your entire financial aid package with it. I’m not saying this is a compelling reason not to change programs if you truly feel that a different degree will better prepare you for your eventual vocation. But I AM saying, don’t let the money part take you by surprise.

You do not have to buy all those books.

Libraries have reserve texts for a reason. Instead of buying my own overpriced editions of page-turners like The Rhetoric of Sobriety: Wine in Early Islam, I just spent a few extra hours each week in the library, kicked back with the school-owned copies, and saved myself both the expense of buying books I was never going to read again and the hassle of offloading them at the end of the year.

After seminary, if you serve a church with any money at all, you will have a designated line item for buying books to strengthen you in your ministry. That is the time to start building your personal library with texts you actually want to read. Not in grad school, when you are broke.

… And that’s all I know about money in seminary. Come on back for Part 3, in which I will share some strong opinions about field education.

What Nobody Tells You Before You Start Seminary: Part 1

Hello, everybody! I hope you’ve been having a fabulous summer. I’ve been offline for most of it, first for an incredible two-week seminar at Canterbury Cathedral and then preaching on this island you can reach only by boat and then serving as a summer camp chaplain at this awesome place. But now I’m home again, snuggled in with my wife and the cats. It feels pretty darn good.

And somehow it’s August, and the start of school is around the corner, and I’m remembering the all the excitement and dread I felt in the last weeks before I began seminary. Overall, I had a positive experience there. But there are a handful of things — mostly nuts-and-bolts kinds of things — I wish somebody had told me beforehand. The next few posts here on Rock That Collar will be a messy roundup of just those things. If you’ve gone to seminary yourself, do comment and let me know what to add.

And if you’re just about to start seminary? Hooray! This post is for you.

For starters …

Everyone else is just as nervous as you are.

When I started seminary, I was twenty-six and had been out of school for five years. This doesn’t seem like such a long time in retrospect, but at the time, I was terrified that I had forgotten how to be a student — how to sift through journal articles, write research papers, speak up in class. You know, student stuff.

Of course, once I got there, I found that my classmates came from an enormous range of backgrounds and age groups and that we were all nervous about something. Some people were returning to school after a forty-year hiatus. Some were doing academic work in English for the first time. Others were coming directly from undergrad and had never paid bills or rented apartments before.

We all had some kind of learning curve. And you know what? We all did just fine.

The most competitive CPE sites fill up way before their posted deadlines.

Clinical Pastoral Education, better known as CPE, is an intensive chaplaincy internship (most often completed in a hospital setting) that is a required component of training for most clergy and chaplains. If, like most full-time students, you want to complete CPE in the summer, you are probably checking out sites whose application deadlines are in mid-November. Does that mean you should wait until mid-November to apply? NO! CPE deadlines are rolling, and if you mail your application on the due date, your top-choice site may be long since full.

Now, competitive CPE applications are not like competitive college applications. Three things make a CPE site competitive:

  1. Desirable location. Are you hoping to complete CPE in a big city, or in the town where you and 8,000 other seminary students now live? Get that application in early.
  2. Popular supervisor at the site. Excellent CPE supervisors are treasures in their own right, and they tend to attract a following. If your seminary classmates speak of a certain local CPE supervisor in hushed and reverential tones, getting a spot at his or her site is going to take some extra work.
  3. Terrible supervisor at a site down the street. What’s that you say? There are only two accredited CPE sites in your town? And one of them has a supervisor who is infamously abusive? So you’re hoping for a spot at the other one? Huh. Better get writing.

Submitting your applications six weeks before the deadline is not a bad idea at all. You deserve every chance to get your top choice so that you can be as traumatized by CPE as the rest of us.

Do not ever say anything mean about anyone in the church to anyone else in the church.

Anything.

Anyone.

Ever.

I actually did know this before I went to seminary, but only because I started out as a lay religious professional. Christendom is not as big as you think. Your denomination, especially, is very very small. Whatever unkind thing you say will, if it doesn’t get back to the person you said it about, at the very least get back to someone else — a potential employer, or perhaps that extremely attractive colleague you are always eyeing at church conferences. How were you supposed to know that they are best friends with the person you called “a cosmic void of self-absorption” when you thought no one could overhear?

Nasty gossip is bad for your career prospects, but it is even worse for your spirit. Just don’t do it. When conversations among church friends turn in that direction — as they inevitably will — abruptly change the subject by pulling out your phone and showing everyone a video of a screaming goat.

Screaming goats are hilarious, but I am not joking.

By the way, if it doesn’t go without saying that this principle applies extra hard to your text and email habits, it should.

Career Services has no idea how to help you find a job.

One hopes this will be untrue if you are attending a seminary affiliated with your denomination. If you’re at an interdenominational school, though, or if you’re an Episcopalian attending a Lutheran seminary (or a Methodist at an Episcopal seminary, or …), do not count on the Career Services office to have even a minimal understanding of how your polity works, how the hiring process happens in your tradition, or when you ought to start looking for your first call.

Does this mean Career Services is useless to you? Of course not. They can look over your cover letters and resume, suggest cool scholarships and fellowships that might suit your interests, and offer plenty of tips if you are considering a vocation outside parish ministry. (For example: Want to teach or become a chaplain at an independent school? Carney Sandoe is where it’s at.)

Find a spiritual director and a therapist BEFORE you need one.

I mean, I guess everybody always needs a spiritual director, but you might not need a mental health therapist right now. The thing is, weird stuff happens. There are the normal things:

  • Your loved one gets sick or dies unexpectedly.
  • You go through a horrible breakup.
  • You are in a scary car/bike/boat/ski/unicycle accident.
  • You just feel awfully stressed out and a little lonely and you’re not sure how to make it better.

Then there are the things that are a little more likely to happen in seminary:

  • Your ordination process hits a roadblock you didn’t see coming.
  • You start to have doubts about your faith, and corresponding panic about what those doubts might mean for your career.
  • A 19-year-old dies of a heroin overdose in the middle of the night at your CPE site and you’re the only person on call and weeks later you can’t stop thinking about it.
  • Your field education supervisor gropes you one day without warning and you really want to never see him again but you need the field education credit to graduate on time.

In my case, what ran me off the rails was a serious back injury that ruined my entire last year of school. I had been hustling through seminary as a reasonably high-functioning grown-up who could juggle marriage and family, a full courseload, and three different low-paying part-time jobs with ease; all of a sudden — thanks to a herniated disc, if anyone is wondering — I was a helpless blob who could not put on shoes unassisted or roll myself over in bed. The pain was excruciating, but the loss of independence was much, much worse.

I survived this brutal period of my life thanks only to the otherworldly patience of my spouse and closest friends, but what helped me hang onto a little bit of my sanity through it was the support of a very kind therapist. Talking to her (usually while lying on her office floor with my knees pulled up to my chest, which was still painful but slightly less painful than every other possible position) was an absolute godsend. Waiting six weeks for a mental health consult from my overtaxed seminary health center before I got to talk to that therapist, though, was less helpful. I wish I’d made the connection earlier and had somebody on call.

… And that’s all I’ve got for Part 1. After you read this post, maybe you can say a little prayer for people who are starting seminary this fall. I assure you they could all use it.

The Planner That Will Finally Solve All Your Organizational Problems

Like so many others, I feel a thrill whenever I wander through a store aisle full of back-to-school supplies. Even if I am just on a quick dash to CVS to buy ant traps, that intoxicating odor of fresh pencils and tempera paint gets me every single time.

I remember squeezing my father’s hand as we gazed together at shelves and shelves of spiral-bound notebooks. I remember carefully attaching those sticky multicolor tabs to the dividers in my three-ring binder. And, not least, I remember the enormous care I put into selecting the perfect day planner.

Every single year — even once the math facts and spelling quizzes had given way to college essays and problem sets, even once I was old enough to know better — I managed to convince myself that, if I only bought the right planner, everything else would fall into place. I would never miss another deadline. I would measure out my days in fifteen-minute increments, gentle but precise. I would finally be like the beautiful straight girls whose specters haunted me all through my twelve years of school.

I bet you had these girls at your school too. They had flawless handwriting. They had perfect hair. And, though even as a kid I suspected they didn’t truly have it all together, they had something even more potent: the ability to fake it.

I had none of those things. Not by a long shot. But I was sure, absolutely sure, that the right organizational tool would help me acquire them all.

Ha.

Ha ha.

AHAHAHAHAHA.

Just kidding. That was a dumb thing to think. There is no planner that finally solved all my organizational problems, and there is no planner that will finally solve all of yours, because there is no planner (yet) with the capacity to rewire your personality from the ground floor up.

BUT! Even if you are, like me, congenitally disorganized and chronically late, there is no reason for despair. There are plenty of tools out there to help you get your life — or at least your working hours — in shape. Everyone has a different style; my personal preference these days is to schedule meetings and appointments (not to mention professional development) in Google Calendar, but use a paper journal for to-do lists, reminders, and blocking out those long stretches in the office where I have to get fifteen small tasks done in no special order.

If you’re starting to shop around for a new planner as September approaches, here are a few that are either tried-and-true favorites or have sparked my interest (h/t the forum at Young Clergy Women International that tipped me off to several of these):

Church-Minded Planners

sacred ordinary daysSacred Ordinary Days. This is a favorite among the Young Clergy Women, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s now available in either an academic-year or a liturgical-year format.

Pros: Elegant design, 7.75×8.75″, with a hard cover and ribbon bookmarks. Pages are cleanly laid out and include Revised Common Lectionary readings, as well as room for daily goals and projects. There are also cool extras like a liturgical wheel calendar and a (fingertip-scaled) prayer labyrinth.

Cons: At 2.5 pounds, this planner is a serious doorstop. It is not a good choice for hauling around in your purse. It will also set you back $47. Several fans reported that they love using this book as a prayer journal but would never rely on it as a daily planner.

episcopal liturgical appointment calendarEpiscopal Liturgical Appointment Calendar. This was my day planner of choice before I switched to an online scheduler, and now I use it for daily devotions — when I read the Bible passages from the Daily Office, I make little notes of thoughts, themes, and sermon ideas.

Pros: Handy size (8.5×10″ fits in a purse but still gives you plenty of space to write); beautiful layout; includes Daily Office and RCL Bible passages (conveniently listed on each day of the planner so you don’t have to mess around with a chart), plus extras like art, quotations, and the liturgical color for each day. Luxurious two-page spread for each week. Also, the 2018 edition is PURPLE.

Cons: Starts on the first Sunday of Advent, which is very spiritual and so forth, but most people do not celebrate the liturgical New Year by breaking out a new planner.

calendar and workbook for church leadersCalendar & Workbook for Church Leaders. This one comes in both an ecumenical and a United Methodist-specific version (thanks, Abingdon Press!).

Pros: At 6×9″, this is a bit more portable than the calendars above. It also features extra space on Sundays so that you have plenty of room to write down worship details, and there are designated pages for the contact information of your church staff.

Cons: Not nearly as elegant-looking as the calendars above. RCL readings are squished into a teensy little chart instead of listed for each day, which would drive me insane.

Justice-Minded Planners

planning to change the world a plan book for social justice teachersPlanning to Change the World: A Plan Book for Social Justice Teachers. Includes lots of book recommendations and lesson plan ideas that would not be out of place in your Sunday school.

Pros: At 9×11″, this planner will give you lots of space to write. Also, there is so much cool stuff in it! (See sample pages here.) Full of interesting birthdays and historical dates of people and events that made the world better.

Cons: Not the most portable of the bunch.

justseeds-eberhardt-press-organizer.jpgJustseeds Organizer. There is simply no lovelier planner anywhere, and your purchase will support the worker-owned Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative.

Pros: Visually stunning, especially if you are a sucker for woodcuts like me. Art on the art pages and clean, unfussy design on the calendar pages. Available in two different sizes.

Cons: 2018 edition is not available yet (the link will take you to the 2017 edition). Two weeks on each two-page spread would cramp my planning style, especially given that the larger version is only 5×8″.

slingshot organizer

Slingshot Organizer. Feeling a little blue about your decision to become a tool of the institutional church? Keep your radical streak alive with the Slingshot Organizer (you can find it at Microcosm Publishing if you’d rather not buy it from Amazon).

Pros: DIY/zine aesthetic. I used a Slingshot for a year and really liked it, especially the inclusion of important dates in labor history and the list of key phrases in various languages (e.g., “freedom and mutual aid” and “Where is the library?”). Two-page spread for each week. Comes in a bunch of colors and two different sizes.

Cons: DIY/zine aesthetic, which is not everybody’s thing. 2018 edition is not available yet (links will take you to the 2017 edition). Some of the art may startle your parishioners when you open your planner at the stewardship meeting. Also, at 5.5×8.5″, I found even the large version of this planner to be slightly too small.

Fancy Pinterest-Minded Planners

bullet journalBullet Journal. I understand that the “Bullet Journal” is, uh, not a planner but a movement. To me, Bullet Journaling just seems like an unnecessarily labor-intensive way of keeping a to-do list. However, if you watch the video and decide it’s a method that suits you, by all means go for it. You can spring for the fancy branded journal linked above, or just get yourself a nice plain notebook.

Pros: If you are naturally artistic, Bullet Journaling gives you lots of room for creativity. You can do it in any old notebook, rather than springing for an expensive planner. The little symbols seem to really work for a lot of people.

Cons: Did I already say “unnecessarily labor-intensive way of keeping a to-do list”? Also, if you are not naturally artistic, don’t spend too much time looking at Bullet Journal exemplars on Pinterest or it will give you the blues.

passion plannerPassion Planner. For keeping your staff meetings and your deepest passions all in one place, a concept which I find sometimes appealing and sometimes annoying, depending on the day.

Pros: Visually elegant. Includes space for reflection and dreaming about the future. Available in multiple colors and sizes, and in academic-year, calendar-year, or undated format. Again, if you are naturally artistic, the Passion Planner will give you room to go wild.

Cons: To me, this seems like a planner for someone who is already extremely organized. Between the “weekly layouts,” “monthly layouts,” and “passion roadmaps,” I would mix myself up and miss a dental appointment in no time.

plum paperPlum Paper Planner. The infinitely customizable planner for the modern age. If you enjoy scrapbooking, or perhaps if you enjoy the idea of scrapbooking but would prefer someone else to mess around with the scissors and glue, Plum Paper is for you.

Pros: Colorful and visually appealing. Available in many patterns and sizes. You can add seven custom daily sections, and there are various additional page packs available for purchase (e.g., wedding planning, baby planning, and fitness planning, not to mention homeschooling and direct sales if you are into such things).

Cons: The scrapbook aesthetic, especially in the workplace, is not to everyone’s taste. Also, customization is expensive. The 8.5×11″ planners start at $42, but can quickly double in price, depending on how much stuff you want to add.

erin condren lifeplannerErin Condren Lifeplanner. Not quite as customizable as Plum Paper, but another solid choice for clean layout and pretty designs.

Pros: Styles range from stolid boardroom (black and navy faux-leather covers) to fantastically girly (sparkly flowers everywhere!!!!). The calendar pages are available in three different layouts to suit your scheduling style. Also comes in a hard-bound edition, if you find spiral bindings annoyingly snaggy. Included are a pouch, folder, and one million stickers.

Cons: These things start at $55 and climb quickly in price as you customize them (unless you go for the academic-year student planner, which is not as fancy but begins at a more reasonable $25). I never use those pouch/folder/sticker extras, so to me they just take up extra space.

Whatever tools you choose for planning your new program year, I hope the year itself will be a really really good one. My goal for the year to come is to do all my boring administrative work as efficiently as possible so that I can devote myself to being luxuriously inefficient with the good stuff. Every hour of my workweek that I don’t spend in front of a computer is an extra hour I can spend hanging out at a parishioner’s bedside or quieting my mind to pray.

I’m shopping around for a new planner myself, but I no longer fantasize that choosing the right one will turn me into a different person. I will always have “distinctive” handwriting, unruly hair, and less than zero ability to fake it.

And that’s okay with me now. I have grown — or, more accurately, I am still growing — into exactly the person God made me to be.

Not to say becoming a slightly timelier version of that person would be all bad.

Ordination & Seminary Graduation Gift Ideas

When I was getting ready to be ordained, my dad called me up and said, “So, should we buy you a chalice?”

I thought about it for a minute, trying to imagine what on earth I would do with my own personal silver chalice.

I said, “Is that a thing?”

He said, “I thought so. When I was growing up, if a guy from the neighborhood got ordained, the family always bought him a chalice.”

I don’t know whether the personal chalice is still a custom for Catholic priests, but I was pretty sure I didn’t need one of my own. This did not help my family and friends with ordination gift selection at all. Still, they managed to give me some killer presents, several of which I use every single day. If you are on the hunt for an ordination gift or seminary graduation gift, here are a few ideas that are all but guaranteed to be well-received:

Diploma/certificate frame. It is pretty awesome to be able to show off your hard-earned ordination certificate or seminary diploma, but good frames are expensive, so often these treasured documents just sit in mailing tubes for years. If you have around $170 to spend and want a gift that is beautiful AND useful, buy your seminarian a frame with that special UV-protective glass so that the diploma won’t fade. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Take your seminarian and her diploma or certificate to a custom frame store and pick out a frame together.
  • Buy your seminarian a gift certificate to a custom frame store (an especially good option if she is about to move and would rather just leave the diploma in the mailing tube until she gets settled).
  • Campus bookstores often sell diploma frames that are decked out with the school crest and stuff. Call your seminarian’s campus bookstore (or check out its website) and see if you can find one.

Magazine subscription. Now, there are some weird Christian magazines out there. I am not suggesting that you buy your new graduate a year’s supply of Above Rubies or Midnight Call. However, any of these could be a nice treat:

Wristwatch. There are many moments in ministry when you need to know the time, yet it is in decidedly poor taste to yank out your phone. (The graveside service that takes place immediately before the funeral, for example.) While it is possible to spend four or five or six or seven figures on a watch, you can also find plenty of elegant and professional options for much much less. Here are a few that I like, including a lot of Timex and Anne Klein at the lower end because neither brand has ever steered me wrong.

Options under $30:

  • Anne Klein Two-Tone (gold/silver-tone band, rectangular white face)
  • Timex Cavatina (black leather band, white face)
  • Timex Uptown Chic (white leather band, white/gold-tone face)
  • Timex Weekender (this version comes with a blue nylon band, but it’s easy to switch out bands to dress it up or down — my wife wears her Weekender with about half a dozen different watchbands, including black leather for dressing up and green-and-yellow nylon for Oregon game days. Go Ducks!)

Options under $50:

Options under $100:

Monogrammed stationery. My priestly life is one long heroic endeavor to keep the U.S. Postal Service in business. Thank-you-for-running-the-evensong-reception notes. I-enjoyed-seeing-you-in-the-school-play notes. Sorry-to-hear-about-the-death-in-your-family notes. The-confirmation-class-appreciated-your-tour-of-the-sacristy notes. Any clergyperson worth her salt is always going to have a use for nice stationery and a decent pen.

Bookstore gift certificate with a heartfelt handwritten note suggesting your favorite religious book, which the recipient may then purchase herself. Why not just give her the book? There are a few reasons, buddy. First of all, she already has three copies of Mere Christianity. Second, books are heavy and she might be about to move. Third, how are you going to feel if you learn that the book that changed your life is, uh, not quite to her taste? Unless you know the recipient and her preferences VERY well, just let her pick the book out herself. With one exception …

Denominational prayer book or hymnal (bonus for engraving!). In my tradition, this is the Book of Common Prayer & Hymnal 1982. It’s cheapest on Amazon, of course, but if you order it from Episcopal Bookstore, you’ll be supporting a small business with great customer service AND they’ll engrave the recipient’s name on it in gold for just $13. Note: This is also a popular farewell gift from church internship sites, so do discreetly find out whether your seminarian already has one.

Why not a Bible? See above. I have an entire SHELF of Bibles in my office, not including the two very nice ones I was presented with at my two ordinations (diaconate and priesthood). It’s a nice thought and the recipient will surely appreciate the spirit of the gift, but you can find something else that will be put to better use.

Stole! Everybody loves a stole! See the Rock That Collar vestment guide for tips on colors and styles. Some sources for clergy stoles (no promises re: taste) are:

Remember, when in doubt, look for quality fabrics and simple design. A stole like this might make a good wall hanging, but woe to the Episcopalian or Lutheran who tries to pull off such a thing at the Sunday morning service.

Clerical attire. For my ordination, my cousins and aunts banded together and bought me a clergy dress from Casual Priest. It was a wonderfully lavish gift, but darned if I don’t wear that dress at least twice a week, every single week. The cost per wear is plummeting fast.

If you don’t have $220 or an army of relatives to help share the cost, I highly recommend the made-to-measure shirts and dresses from Clergy Image. A gift certificate for any amount is not a bad bet.

Cross necklace. Who needs points for originality when you can give a gift that the recipient will wear every day? As I’ve said before, a good size of cross to wear with a clergy collar is generally 1.5″-2.5″. A few of my favorites (all sterling silver because the quality for the price can’t be beat) are:

Prayer manipulative. Is there a better term for “thing you hold while you pray”? Many world religions use prayer beads or something similar to help focus the mind during prayer. Depending on the recipient’s tradition, a rosary (with beads made from rose quartz, Connemara marble, Murano glass, lapis lazuli, or another pretty stone), Orthodox prayer rope, or set of Anglican prayer beads* can make a beautiful gift.

Almost every Christian tradition uses the cross as a symbol, so a simple wooden holding cross (sometimes called a “hand cross” or “palm cross,” not to be confused with a cross made out of palms) is also a good bet. One of my favorite ordination presents was a wooden cross from ByRon PalmCross, which I love to hold during daily silent contemplative prayer at my church. Rosary beads are too noisy for this purpose, although I confess that I sometimes say a decade of the rosary by counting on my fingers.**

*In my household, we refer to Anglican prayer beads as “the fake rosary.” I’ve never actually met anyone who uses these as part of a regular prayer practice, but I’m sure I will someday.

**I love to pray the rosary, provided I modify the Hail, Holy Queen to make it less depressing and the Fatima Prayer to make it less scary. More on this in some other post.

Travel Communion kit. I just bought a sterling silver necklace at our church rummage sale for $2, so I’m not sure why silver-plated communion items are so preposterously expensive. Almy has the nerve to call its smallest travel kit “economical” at $559. However, if you have an enormous amount of money or a LOT of relatives who want to chip in for a gift, some clergy like to have their own travel Communion kits. Engraving the kit with the recipient’s initials is a charming personal touch and will also prevent other clergy from mistaking it for their own.

Nice leather bag. To replace the ubiquitous grad-student backpack. My first pick will always be a black leather tote big enough to hold a laptop and a prayer book. Some nice choices (all under $200, some under $100) include:

Massage gift certificate. Because not EVERY gift has to last a lifetime. Most graduate students are very short on money or time or both, and small luxuries often drop way down to the bottom of the priority list. I assure you that the gift of a nice massage will be very, very, very much appreciated.

Did you receive a treasured ordination gift that isn’t on this list? What do you like to give to friends who are completing seminary or getting ordained? Let me know in the comments!

What to Wear to a Clergy Job Interview When You Are Not Yet Ordained

Oooooh it is your last semester of seminary! The graduation gown has been rented! The denominational exams have been passed! And the long-awaited job interview is finally on the calendar. Nice work, proto-Reverend.

But wait. The job you want is a clergy job … so normally you would wear a clergy collar to the interview? Except you don’t have a clergy collar because you won’t get ordained until June.

Fear not. I am here to help.

For most any job interview but definitely for a clergy job, and especially if you are interviewing in a large, well-heeled suburban parish (where a lot of us start out because that’s who can afford to hire assistant pastors, natch), it is a great big pain in the neck to decide what to wear because you are expected to look both

1) stylish; and
2) extremely conservative.

How conservative are we talking? Pretend that you will be wearing your outfit to a campaign fundraiser for your husband, who is a Republican running for local office. That is how the search committee will expect you to look.

Is this fair? Of course not. Church job interviews are not some kind of secret decontamination zone, shielded from the putrescent stench of sexism that pervades everything else in this broken world. The thing is, to start fixing the system from the inside, first you have to get the job.

The trick, then, is to find an outfit that fits these crappy parameters but still makes you feel awesome. Your approach will of course be shaped by many factors, not least your age, gender presentation and personal style, but here’s the tried-and-true formula that works for me:

What to Wear to a Clergy Job Interview When You Are Not Yet Ordained

collage clergy job interview outfit

shop the look: dress | blazer | shoes | pantyhose (ugh) | earrings

Comfy stretchy sheath dress. I love sheath dresses generally. One piece and bam! you’re dressed! And no need to fuss around with a blouse that will inevitably come untucked from your slacks or pencil skirt. Besides, if you are trying to assemble an interview outfit at the Goodwill twelve hours before your interview, choosing a dress means you only have to dig through one rack of clothes instead of two.

The perfect dress for a job interview is comfortable to sit in and gently skims your body shape — fit-and-flare dresses, although they are cute as can be, are not interview attire. Get whatever color you want, but stick with a solid color or a very subtle print. Length should be within an inch of your kneecap, and neckline should be high enough that there’s no cleavage exposure when you bend forward. Use a mirror to check.

The good news here is that, if there is no thrift store handy, you can buy yourself a cheap dress and still look pretty good. If you’re on a serious budget, get yourself to Target. If you can afford to spend $50, the world is your dress-oyster. LOFT makes tons of interview-appropriate dresses and always seems to be having a sale; try this mixed-media sheath or plum sheath WITH POCKETS, or these polka dots if that’s your style, or this gorgeous coral cutout-neck dress. If the LOFT dress you really want isn’t on sale right now, wait twenty minutes and then look again.

Blazer. To look good with a sheath dress, a blazer should have a hem that hits you between navel and mid-hip. Keep the color and cut simple and the fit perfect. If you can’t button it or it feels tight across the back when you cross your arms, it is too small. If you can button it and comfortably fit your laptop inside it with you, it is too big. If the sleeves cover any part of your thumbs when your arms are at your sides, they are too long — zip over to a tailor and get them shortened.

A wool blazer is a great investment if you can afford it, but my favorite interview blazer came from a thrift store by way of Body by Victoria and it fits me pretty well so it looks fine. If you prefer to shop for blazers at a store best known for selling something other than lingerie, hit up Express, LOFT, J. Crew Factory, Nordstrom, or a mid-range department store of your choosing.

Pantyhose. Ugh, I know. But remember your imaginary Republican husband. His constituents will be shocked if you are bare-legged at the fundraiser. They are the worst.

Fortunately for you, Kate Middleton has brought pantyhose back into style! To look as good in them as she does, don’t buy them in a plastic egg at the drugstore, and match them to your skin tone as closely as possible. If you’re between sizes, size up so that you can breathe. For darker skin tones, Nubian Skin (available at Nordstrom) draws good reviews. For lighter skin tones, I like Nordstrom Rack’s in-house Shimera brand, which is fairly durable and will only set you back $6.

Uncomfortable shoes. Unless you will have to spend several hours walking and standing (e.g., your interview includes leading worship or teaching sample lessons), now is the time to dust off a pair of shoes that are achy but stunning.

“Stunning” in a professional context is best achieved by pointed toes, slender heels, and minimal frippery. I love wearing loud shoes in the pulpit, especially red patent (for Pentecost!) or snakeskin (for … the sign gifts of the Holy Spirit?), but save those for when you already have the job. Stick with shoes in one color and pick a heel height you can walk in. Here are some good choices from Cole Haan (lower heel and higher heel), Clarks (lower heel and higher heel), and Jessica Simpson (slender heel, block heel and wedge). More expensive shoes, as a rule, are going to be more tolerable for your feet. Too bad your student loans don’t know that.

If you can’t walk in heels or refuse to wear them on principle, what you need are a pair of stylish professional flats, which — I hate to be the one to break this to you — will probably also be uncomfortable. Here are a few options to try from BP at Nordstrom, Rockport, Sam Edelman, and Nine West.

What if you have health concerns that force you to prioritize comfort over style? No worries. First, make sure the comfy shoes you plan to wear are in sparkling shape — clean, freshly polished, not worn down at the heel. Second, do consider checking out the offerings from brands that specialize in shoes for difficult feet. Vionic (Orthaheel) makes some darn cute dress shoes, and is an especially popular brand for people with plantar fasciitis. Some of my favorites among their many styles are the Sterling ankle boot, the Upton ankle boot, and the Minna ballet flat. They’re pricey for sure, but if other shoes cause you blinding pain, the investment is worth it.

Simple, elegant hair, nails, and makeup. While my preferred daily hairstyle is the Wet Hair Ponytail, for job interviews I always break out the blow dryer. Your hair doesn’t have to be fancy, but if you wear it long, it should look at least a little bit like you tried.

I keep my fingernails very short, so I never polish them, but I do always make sure they are clean with no ragged edges. If you are the manicure type, your nail polish should be boring in color and free of chips.

If you wear makeup, keep it natural and go easy on the eyeliner. If you don’t wear makeup, at least get in the habit of applying a daily moisturizer with SPF (here’s the one I like, usually cheapest at Target). That’s not an interview tip, just a life tip, brought to you by our rapidly depleting ozone layer.

Understated jewelry. Again, think of your campaign-fundraiser alter ego. Some jewelry she would wear includes:

Some jewelry she would probably leave in the car includes:

  • Dangly or hoop earrings
  • Novelty stud earrings, e.g. those shaped like bees
  • Those thumbnail-sized sparkly stud earrings popularized by Kate Spade
  • Piercings of anything other than the earlobes
  • Silver jewelry that is not freshly polished
  • Gigantic cross necklace
  • Blinged-out plastic statement necklace
  • Long boho tassel necklace
  • Pearl earrings plus pearl necklace plus pearl bracelet (not even the wife of a Republican congressman wants to look THAT much like the wife of a Republican congressman)
  • Plastic digital watch or smart watch
  • Pile of bangle bracelets that jingle continuously
  • Silicone bracelet from charity bike ride
  • Leather wristband from college boyfriend
  • Friendship bracelet from summer camp chaplain gig
  • Enormous fake cocktail ring

Speaking of which, here are a few other items of clothing to save for a different day:

  • Clothing that doesn’t fit you quite right
  • Clothing that is even a teeny little bit damaged or stained
  • Clothing that you can’t comfortably sit down in
  • Shoes that you can’t comfortably walk in
  • Dress or skirt you have to tug to keep it in place
  • Baggy polyester suit purchased at T.J. Maxx in 2008
  • Bra whose function is purely symbolic
  • Underwear whose outline is visible from the next county
  • Pantyhose with runs or snags (carry a backup pair in your purse if you’re worried)
  • Opaque tights (MAYBE I will give you a pass if you wear them with ankle boots)
  • Bare legs (sorry, yo)
  • Loafers
  • Mary Janes
  • Open-toed shoes

What do you think? Am I way off or did I hit it right on the head? And what are your favorite tips for church-gig interview attire?

Idea File: Stations of the Cross, Women of the Passion Edition

I serve a liturgical church, so we walk the Stations of the Cross during Holy Week. But it is also a Protestant church, so I have a lot of flexibility in the design of the liturgy, which is good because our sanctuary has very skinny side aisles and accommodating the traditional fourteen stations would be rough.

It’s also good because I sometimes want to highlight other parts of the Passion narratives. Like, what about all the women whose stories we never hear? How come Joseph of Arimathea gets the spotlight while we ignore Mary and Mary Magdalene, who kept watch at Jesus’ tomb?

I searched far and wide for a resource offering devotions based on the women of the Passion, and I found lots of reader’s-theater monologues and ’90s feminist lectionaries and other stuff that looked kind of cool but was so not my church’s jam. What I wanted was a service following a traditional format, with updated stories. So I put one together myself.

I like to assign eight readers, one for each station. The following will make for about a 25-minute service as written, though you could certainly add more to it — candle-lighting, Taizé chant, veneration of the cross — depending on what works in your community and your space.

Please feel free to use, adapt, and share the service below, which draws upon the original Stations of the Cross, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Bible (NRSV). I was alarmed to learn that Veronica is totally extracanonical, but everyone else is right there in the Good Book.

Stations of the Cross: Women of the Passion

Opening Devotions

Celebrant: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Celebrant: Lord, have mercy.
People: Christ, have mercy.
Celebrant: Lord, have mercy.

Celebrant and People:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

Celebrant: We will glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ:
People: In whom is our salvation, our life and resurrection.

Celebrant: Assist us mercifully with your help, O Lord God of our salvation, that we may enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts, whereby you have given us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
People: Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One: Have mercy upon us.

I. Jesus is anointed by Mary of Bethany

Celebrant: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
People: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

As Jesus sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial.”

Reader: The spirit of the Lord God is upon me:
People: Because the Lord has anointed me.

Celebrant: Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.
People: Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One: Have mercy upon us.

II. Peter is questioned by the woman at the temple gate

Celebrant: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
People: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

After Jesus was arrested, Simon Peter and another disciple followed him. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.”

Reader: He was despised and rejected by others:
People: As one from whom others hide their faces.

Celebrant: Almighty God, whose beloved Son willingly endured the agony and shame of the cross for our redemption: Give us courage to profess his name and follow him; who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
People: Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One: Have mercy upon us.

III. The wife of Pilate warns him of her dream

Celebrant: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
People: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

While Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him: “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.” Now the chief priests and elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. Pilate the governor said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” All of them said, “Let him be crucified!”

Reader:  By a perversion of justice he was taken away:
People:  He was cut off from the land of the living.

Celebrant: Heavenly Father, in your Word you have given us a vision of that holy City to which the nations of the world bring their glory: Renew the ties of mutual regard which form our civic life. Send us honest and able leaders. Enable us to eliminate injustice, prejudice, and oppression, that peace may prevail with righteousness, and justice with order; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
People: Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One: Have mercy upon us.

IV. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

Celebrant: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
People: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

There followed after Jesus a great multitude of the people, and among them were women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”

Reader: Those who sowed with tears:
People: Will reap with songs of joy.

Celebrant: Teach your Church, O Lord, to mourn the sins of which it is guilty, and to repent and forsake them; that, by your pardoning grace, the results of our iniquities may not be visited upon our children and our children’s children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
People: Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One: Have mercy upon us.

V. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

Celebrant: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
People: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

As Jesus carried his cross, a woman followed him along the way. She approached him with a white cloth and wiped the blood and sweat from his face.

Reader: Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due:
People: When it is within the power of your hands.

Celebrant: Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior came not to be served but to serve: Give us grace to minister in his Name to the suffering, the friendless, and the needy; for the love of him who laid down his life for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
People: Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One: Have mercy upon us.

VI. Jesus’ mother and friends remain at his side as he is crucified

Celebrant: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
People: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

When they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him. Standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. With him they crucified two criminals, one on the right, the other on the left, and Jesus between them. And the scripture was fulfilled which says, “He was numbered with the transgressors.”

Reader: They pierce my hands and my feet:
People: They stare and gloat over me.

Celebrant: Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. Amen.
People: Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One: Have mercy upon us.

VII. Mary is with Jesus when he dies

Celebrant: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
People: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour, the disciple took her into his own home. Then Jesus said, “It is finished!” And then, crying with a loud voice, he said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” And he bowed his head, and handed over his spirit.

Reader: Christ for us became obedient unto death:
People: Even death on a cross.

Celebrant: O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; who lives and reigns now and forever. Amen.
People: Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One: Have mercy upon us.

VIII. Mary and Mary Magdalene keep vigil at Jesus’ tomb

Celebrant: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
People: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. When the body of Jesus was buried and evening came, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained, sitting opposite the tomb.

Reader: You will not abandon me to the grave:
People: Nor let your Holy One see corruption.

Celebrant: O God, your blessed Son was laid in a tomb in a garden, and rested on the Sabbath day: Grant that we who have been buried with him in the waters of baptism may find our perfect rest in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
People: Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One: Have mercy upon us.