Ask a YCW: Dating While Ordained Edition

Dear Askie,

I’m a young clergy woman, starting out in my first call. I’m single, and thinking about jumping back into the dating world now that I’m settled in my new location. I’m worried, though, that it might be a bit weird dating now that I’m a pastor. How will potential dates react when they find out? Should I say I’m a pastor in an online dating profile, or wait to tell people once we’ve actually met? Am I overthinking this?

Signed,
Solo Pastor Seeking to be Less Solo

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Ask a YCW: Discernment Edition

Dear Askie,

I’m currently a senior in college, trying to figure out what I’m going to do next. I think I might be called into ministry, but I’m not really sure. How do I know if God is really calling me or not? If I am called, what are the steps I need to take? What advice do you have for me?

Sincerely,

A future Young Clergy Woman?

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Ask a YCW: Retired Minister Edition

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Dear Askie,

I’m a recently retired minister, and the church that my wife and I attend recently called a young clergy woman as the pastor. She is recently ordained, and this is her first call. Any advice for how I can support our new pastor (while also adjusting to my new place in the pews instead of the pulpit)?

Signed,
Retired and Looking Forward to Pew-Sitting

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Lattice Pie being held by someone in an apron

Ask a Young Clergy Woman: Potluck Edition

Lattice Pie being held by someone in an apronDear Askie,

Every month, our church has a potluck lunch after worship. It’s a great time of fellowship, with lots of delicious food. Every family brings something to share, but our pastor doesn’t. She comes to the potlucks, but she never brings anything. Our previous pastor always brought such delicious pies—his wife was famous for them! Shouldn’t our pastor contribute to these community meals? How can I get her to cook something?

Sincerely,
the Congregation’s Appointed Kitchen Elder

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Black silhouettes of a female and a male arguing on a grayscale background

Ask a Young Clergy Woman: Haters Gonna Hate Edition

Black silhouettes of a female and a male arguing on a grayscale backgroundDear Askie,

I recently found myself in a tricky situation, and thought you might have helpful perspective on it. A while ago, I got together with some old high school friends and their significant others. One old friend has become a young clergywoman, which I think is great, although I identify as atheist. Yay for religious people being non-oppressive and feminist and stuff! However, the other friend’s spouse made repeated negative comments about religion and religious people. The person making the comments had experienced a lot of trauma at the hands of people who claimed to have been acting in the name of God (both spouses are LGBTQ). My clergy friend was very gracious, but the exchange still made me very uncomfortable. I tried to change the subject a few times, but I’ve been wondering if there was any other useful way I could have helped diffuse that situation or made my YCW friend feel more supported. I try to be an ally to religious folks, just like I try to be an ally to the LGBTQ community, but as a young professional in a left-leaning city, I hear anti-religious sentiments much more often than I hear homophobic ones, and I don’t always know what to say. What advice do you have about how I could have supported my friend? What I can say when people talk smack about religion?

Thanks,
Your Friendly Atheist Ally

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Ask a Young Clergy Woman: Inked Edition

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Dear Askie,

I’m in my first call as a Presbyterian minister. My congregation is a small, wonderful group of folks, mostly older, all over the theological spectrum, who do great work with hunger ministries and refugee ministries. I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo, and I’m worried about what they would think about it – it would be something that’s of personal religious significance to me, but not obviously religious. If having a tattoo would be a huge impediment to my ministry, I’d like to take that into consideration. But I’m just not sure, and I don’t want to ask my congregation because I don’t want them to think that they get to make the decision for me. Most of the people I go to for ministry advice are folks of a certain generation, ones I fear might have a knee-jerk reaction to a question about being a pastor with a tattoo. What would you do?

Sincerely,
Rev. Blank Canvas

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feet of newborn - Caucasian

Ask a Young Clergy Woman: Taking Your (Maternity) Leave Edition

feet of newborn - Caucasian

Newborn feet – fearfully and wonderfully made!

Dear Askie,

I’m preparing for the arrival of my first child (a girl!) in September. My congregation is very excited about my pregnancy, but I’m not sure they really “get it” about maternity leave. I have six weeks of paid maternity leave, and am extending that by using two weeks of vacation time. The problem is that I keep hearing people mention things that they assume I’ll still do while I’m on maternity leave. Congregants say things like “Oh, you’ll be on maternity leave then, so I’ll just email you,” or that I’m welcome to bring the baby along to the Fall Festival (three weeks after my due date, so I’ll definitely be out). I’ve also heard a lot of comments about how great it is that the church is being so generous to give me maternity leave, and it’s hard to know how to respond. At the same time, these folks are so sweet and so kind, and so excited to have a new baby at our church – they’re knitting blankets, making sure that the nursery meets my needs, and I think they’re even planning a surprise baby shower (someone let the secret slip). How do I navigate this new phase of life and ministry?

Expectant Pastor

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Ask a Young Clergy Woman: Traveling Pastor Edition

Marmot tent lit up at nightDear Askie,

Our pastor is part of your Young Clergy Women Project organization. She’s going to your conference this summer, which I think is great. The problem is that I just heard that she’s also planning on taking two weeks of vacation this summer, and I think she also took a week of vacation in the winter. I guess I’m confused. Doesn’t that make four weeks of vacation, and don’t people normally just get two? She also seems to take a lot of time off of work – often when I call the church she isn’t there, and I don’t think she’s ever been in on any Monday I’ve called. Askie, can you help me understand what’s going on? I thought pastors are supposed to work a lot, so what gives?

Thanks,
Confused Congregant

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Ask a Young Clergy Woman: Politics in the Pulpit Edition

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Dear Askie,

I’ve always been pretty into politics, but I’m wondering if that has to change? I’ve been serving in my first call for two years, and my church has a big spectrum from conservative to liberal. I’ve posted some articles on social media about my preferred candidate, and some articles that are critical of my preferred candidate’s opponents. I’ve mentioned the election in sermons, and talked in a bible study about how one of the candidates in particular doesn’t seem to understand Christian doctrine and practice. If my least favorite candidate wins the primary, I’m thinking I might volunteer for my preferred party’s nominee. Now some of my congregants are complaining that I’m “too political,” and that pastors are supposed to be neutral. They emailed the personnel committee and the board because they’re “afraid our church will lose its 501c3 status.” Askie, I’m pretty sure they’re off-base on that particular claim, but what are the limits here? Do I have to give up politics for my congregation?

Sincerely,
The Political Pastor

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handprints in paint on a white wall

Ask a Young Clergy Woman: Running Down the Aisles Edition

handprints in paint on a white wallDear Askie,

Recently, our church has seen an increase in young children attending worship. Now, I love children very much, and I know that young families are a wonderful addition to our congregation. However, the noise and commotion can be very disruptive, and really detracts from my (and others’) worship experience. Our congregation offers childcare, but I guess some parents aren’t comfortable with that.

Another problem is that as these children get older, they feel right at home in the church building, and can often be seen running around with little or no supervision. This can be dangerous for the children and for the unlucky folks in their path. How can our church address these problems without chasing the families away?

Sincerely,
Concerned about Children

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