A New Home for TYCWP

We are launching a new website.

Since our founding in 2007, TYCWP has called www.youngclergywomen.org our internet home. We started with the imagination of creating a space where young clergy women could theologically reflect about their ministry. We wanted to create a community of writers. We wanted to share our stories.

As an avid reader of Fidelia’s Sisters, you know that’s what you see on our home page. You see the masthead for our e-zine and the most recent articles written for young clergy women by young clergy women. If you’ve explored beyond this first page, you know there’s a page to find the names of our editors (and other board members), a page that outlines our submission guidelines and even a page that attempts to explain our organization.

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The One We’d Only Begun to Love

The Monday morning after Mother’s Day we found out we were pregnant. 4 weeks later, on my father-in-law’s birthday, we found out we were having a miscarriage.

It’s impossible to describe the deluge of emotions that shift as quickly as the wind, or the vast sea of questions, anxieties, and surreal moments that colored those several months of my life; and I know that new revelations and wounds and emotions and holy moments will continue to surface. Miscarriage is something that is experienced in drastically different ways; and my words certainly do not speak for the experiences and emotions of anyone other than myself; nor do I offer my own musings as the “right”, “good”, or even “healthy” way for anyone other than me to process what happened. I simply offer my story as one of many (often unspoken) stories; and from the somewhat unique perspective of a woman in ministry.

calla lily

There was a relatively small Super Secret Society of close friends and family who knew we were pregnant, and they were a wonderful, trusted group to lean on in our grief. Our dear family and friends loved us well in that difficult time; sending cards, flowers and food, sitting with us in the sharp, shadowy whirl of the stages of grief, sharing our tears, hugging us, and holding our hands as we tried to keep moving forward.

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BEST OF: First Article By Our TYCWP First Published Author

Editor’s Note: At the recent annual board meeting of the Editorial Board, our editors decided that we would no longer publish the column Christ & Creativity in order to make way for a new column featuring the voices of young women along the way to ordination. Until the advent of this new column, we will publish our best columns over the four years of Fidelia’s Sisters.

This month, we bring to you the first article published on Fidelia’s Sisters in August 2008 by one of our members who also published the first Chalice Press book under the TYCWP imprint. After writing this article about her robeless identity, Stacy Smith began collaborating with Ashley-Anne Masters on the newly released book Bless Her Heart. We know this is only the first in a long line of wonderful books written by young clergy women. If you are interested in learning more about our imprint, click here.


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In Sickness and In Health

Editor’s Note: This article is one in an occasional series called “All About the Benjamins,” running this fall on Fidelia’s Sisters. As many congregations and organizations are running stewardship campaigns and lining up budgets for 2012, we’ll be taking a look at the sometimes-taboo topic of money, and the role it plays in our ministries.  This is the second in a series of articles by this author, reflecting on how she and her husband have navigated the variety of financial situations they have encountered during her ministry. The third and final article in the series, “For Richer or For Poorer,” will be published in the December edition of “The Ones We Love.” 

I thought I knew what I would be experiencing as I began a Friday-to-Saturday retreat at my church in March 2009.  After all, I had gone through this curriculum before with a different group of people.  I’m not sure Nostradamus could have foreseen and described clearly how the retreat would end for me, for an explanation beyond “this must be God” continues to evade me.

I had been serving as a solo pastor of a small congregation for 4 ½ years at this point.   Ministry was my second career, and this was the first congregation to which I had been called post-seminary.  My weeks consisted of a combination of, but were not limited to preaching; planning and leading worship; caring for and visiting the congregation; leading Consistory (the church’s governing board); teaching Sunday school; engaging the surrounding community and assisting the needy; working to revitalize the church through various programs; serving at other levels of the denomination; counseling; conflict resolution; weddings; funerals; and “other duties as required.”  Congregational ministry was a vocation that was all-encompassing, not a job, and I believed it to be my true purpose in life for which God created me.

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A Putz Tale: Advent, Christmas and Epiphany Children’s Messages

One of my favorite traditions over the past few years has occurred during the children’s messages in worship during the Sundays of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany.  I don’t remember where the idea originally came from, but I have taken it and made it my own, and I don’t know who looks forward to it more–the children or me.

As a Moravian I was raised with the tradition of the Putz (from the old German “to decorate” pronounced “Put-s”) or as they are better known, the Nativity, Manger Scene, or Crèche.  Putz often differ from the traditional manger scene because they typically contain multiple scenes from the Christmas story laid out in such a way for the viewer to journey with Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem and then follow the Shepherds’ and Magi journeys as well.  Sometimes the Putz begins with a prophet announcing the coming Christ child.  Elaborate or simple, in churches or homes–each one varies, and each is special in its own way.  I love how they give us visual glimpses into Scripture, and allow us to experience the story of Christ’s birth in ways that help us integrate our own story into Christ’s story.

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Talking About God, Money, and Giving: A Testimony and Tutorial for Pastors

Editor’s Note:This article is one in an occasional series called “All About the Benjamins,” running this fall on Fidelia’s Sisters. As many congregations and organizations are running stewardship campaigns and lining up budgets for 2012, we’ll be taking a look at the sometimes-taboo topic of money, and the roles it plays in our ministries.

I always feel nervous when I preach about money. And I always feel nervous when my church enters our annual campaign each fall. It’s hard to ask my people to give money to the church without feeling as though I’m standing in the pulpit next to Caesar and a gaggle of televangelists. A pastor asking for money, in my mental catalogue of associations, sounds like Reverend Huckster with her Lear Jet, not a teacher, counselor, or spiritual guide. But I’m trying to teach myself that a follower of Jesus can also be someone who knows how to talk capably about money, giving, and ministry.

First, I try to remember that an annual stewardship campaign isn’t really about money. It’s not about duty, our budget, or a church’s survival. It’s about deepening our relationships: with each other, with our ministries, and with God. It’s about demystifying money as a topic for church teaching and Christian practice, both for your congregation and, gulp… for you.

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Open Relationship

The town is a typical small town. There’s a downtown committed to keeping chain stores out and so there are mom and pop diners, antique shops, and a pizza parlor/movie rental combo. But with only one stoplight in town, I was in for some major culture shock, having just graduated from a seminary within minutes of Atlanta. Yet as I settled into a new place, a new home, I began to love the small town feel and charm.

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Faith, Interrupted.

Last year my life exploded. A mental illness I didn’t know I had shifted into full bloom, landing me in the hospital. One day I solo pastored a church in transition, loving my call and work. The next day I was in the hospital because of severe depression, one pole of my newly diagnosed bipolar disorder. In the year that followed I was on 15 different medications to find the right combination for treatment, had 4 hospitalizations for a total of 10 weeks, spent another 9 weeks in intensive outpatient treatment, and experienced 7 controversial ECT treatments (electro convulsive therapy, not at all like what you’ve seen in movies!). It’s been a harrowing year.

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It’s Just Math

On September 19th, President Obama proposed a deficit reduction plan that would be paid for by tax hikes for families making $250,000 or more annually, a group that makes up just 1.5% of the U.S. population.  Conservative pundits expressed concerns that President Obama was either engaging in or encouraging “class warfare.” To this, President Obama responded, “This is not class warfare—it’s math.”

At the same time, an “Occupy Wall Street” protest began in NYC, and now similar protests have spread around the world.  Protesters at such events have made a habit of chanting “We are the 99 percent” in reference to the fact that 1% of the nation’s population is taking home a quarter of all income in the U.S. each year (a phenomenon eloquently described by Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz’s article “Of the 1%, By the 1%, For the 1%” in Vanity Fair’s May 2011 issue).

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