Here at The Ones We Love, we've developed an unofficial tradition of publishing an article each summer about our latest conference for The Young Clergy Women Project. Even in 2009, when we didn't have a conference, we published an article about the sisterhood found at that year's board meeting.
I'm glad to write this next installment in the tradition, in part because I loved pretty much every minute of this year's conference, but for another reason too. As of this month, my term on the board is complete after four years of service. Beginning in September, I will be handing over the editorship of this department to the capable and talented Stacey Midge.
The Ones We Love has become my baby over four years. It's hard for me to say goodbye. Which is kind of funny, considering that after our first board meeting in 2007, when the idea for Fidelia's was born, The Ones We Love was given to me without a lot of choice in the matter. If I wanted to be on board, this was my assignment.
But it was actually the perfect match for me. Ordained for barely a year at that point, I was still raw and hurting from my move far away from friends and family. I was still trying to figure out which end was up when it came to ministry. I was just beginning to move into the realm of a “serious relationship” with my significant other. I was fortunate to have great colleagues around, but only a few young clergy women (I suppose I was fortunate to have any!). I was very slowly getting used to the dynamics of living in a small town—meaning you are expected to develop relationships with your neighbors.
In short, I was learning how to love the ones I was with, and how to continue loving the ones I missed.
Over the last four years, I've been honored and privileged to read your stories and your perspectives on the intersection of ministry and relationships. Some of you have shared moving, courageous stories that broke our hearts. Some of you made me, and our readers, laugh out loud. Some of you have celebrated what a gift our relationships are. Some of you have simply observed the truth, strikingly so. All of you have moved us to deeper thought and reflection on our various relationships.
And we have covered a vast array of relationships, from parents to siblings to spouses; from neighbors to pets to inanimate objects; from sports teams to friends to “haters.” As young clergy women, we tend to be more complex than anybody wants us to be (you're a what? you do what? what is that even like?). Not that we are more complex than anyone—everyone has scores of delicate relationships to balance daily—but I think that compared to the general population, we defy a lot more categories and don't fit in as many boxes.
This year's conference, which just wrapped up last week, both honored that diversity and brought us together, aware of our common ground. We connect and support each other online, despite the distance, but there is really no substitute for being in the physical presence of fifty other young clergy women. It's truly an incarnational moment, where you see Christ reflected in the faces of people who look like you and sound like you, shades and features and accents aside. No wonder it makes sense to specifically cover the conference in The Ones We Love.
Finally, to sign off one last time (until I show up as a writer, rather than an editor!), let me say that all of you are the ones I love. Knowing that I do my editorial tasks for a real audience of real people is incredibly rewarding. It's been my pleasure and my honor to bring these stories to you, the readers. Now it's my turn to be one.