Register for the Conference!

There’s still time to register
for The Young Clergy Women Project 2010 conference, held in Atlanta in June. I won't miss it, and here's why.
In the spring of 2007, I was questioning where, how, and
even whether God would use me in ministry again. The
five years since my ordination had looked nothing like I had expected.The Plan had been a career of long-term calls
at churches known for taking bold stands on theological and social issues, with
modest but appropriate increases in compensation and visibility at each parish.But I had already served and departed two
local congregations. I had become
one-half of a two-denomination, two-system clergy couple, and I had trailed my
husband Matt to a state where progressive allies were tough to sniff out.My “job” was a second unit of CPE, which I enrolled
in just so I could tell myself I was preparing for something.As Matt was
loving his new church, I floundering vocationally, flopping on the shore, gasping
for air and waiting to be thrown back in the water. I had no idea I was about to get a blast – an almost
unbearably powerful one – of O2.

My inbox dinged one day with a message about a conference
for young clergy women. It had been
forwarded several times, so the original sender (TYCWP Mama Susan Olson) had
never intended the information particularly for me. The conference was centered around preaching,
which I felt fairly “meh” about at the time. But I am a continuing ed junkie, I needed
to be around other people who could relate to my call and maybe even my current
crisis, and I had a chance at a scholarship thanks to my lack of gainful

We all have moments when the Spirit punts us back into the
deep where possibility – where breathable air – abounds. One of mine was that August 2007 conference
at the Cathedral College. For a week I
was surrounded by more clergy women than I had ever seen in one room. Women who were confident in their ministries
but didn’t take themselves too seriously.
Women who were learning how to balance their identities as clergy with
their equally-important identities as family members, artists, and community
activists. Women who were invested in
seeing other women succeed.Through this
community the Holy Spirit threw me back from the gritty shore where the tides
of anxiety and depression lapped. I
delved into a bigger understanding of my call as a pastor and a child of God.

Since that August 2007 conference I have been privileged to
join the ranks of TYCWP servant leadership.I am part of the TYCWP board that is excited to offer Leading As Ourselves:
Discerning Models for Ministry
on June 27-30. This conference, TYCWP’s third, will be an
opportunity for young clergy women and female seminarians to learn, build
relationships with vocational and life stage peers, and receive a breath of
vigor into their ministries and lives. We’ll gather at Candler School of Theology (Emory University) in Atlanta
starting at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 27. Our time together will be spent in large and small group discussion
around a question that comes up often in various forms in the online TYCWP
community: how do I authentically embody pastoral authority as a young clergy
woman in my ministry setting? We’ll be
guided in our discovery by Rev. Melissa Clodfelter and Rev. Beth Kennett, two
highly-regarded ministry coaches, mentors, and pastors from the Center for Congregational Health.TYCWP members who have first-hand experience
with Melissa and Beth have attested to their ability to help ministers find the
God-given resources within themselves to do the work to which they have been

As important as the formal learning, though, will be the
time spent in community. We’ll worship
together at services designed and led by conference participants. We’ll share wisdom about how to juggle the
many demands on our attention in affinity groups. We’ll break bread together. We’ll share the works of our hands in an art
fair. We’ll have plenty of space for informal
conversation. We’ll hit the town with
new and old friends on our free night (and if you’re game, after the
festivities end on campus the other two nights too!).

Won’t you come and breathe the vocational oxygen you need to
keep your ministry vital? Come local
church clergy, chaplains, pastoral counselors, judicatory staff, non-profit
advocates, tentmakers, stay-at-home minister moms, and other young ordained
leaders. Come young, female seminary
students. If you’re darting about
purposefully and healthily in the depths of your vocation and personal life –
which is my prayer for all YCWs – let us celebrate you and learn from you. If you need your sisters to help you back
into the water, let us share your burdens. The in-person version of your online TYCWP community awaits. Let us together take in the holy air that sustains
us for ministry amidst the crashing waves of brokenness and promise.

5 replies
  1. Katherine
    Katherine says:

    Sheesh, I didn’t expect the reminder about conference registrations to leave me all weepy! What a beautiful testimony, Laura. That August 2007 conference was seminal for me, too. I’m sorry I’m not attending this year’s conference, but I can add a hearty, “here! here!” and encourage any fence-sitters to go ahead and jump in.

  2. Ruth
    Ruth says:

    Thanks, Laura. I cannot attend this year, but feel the same way about the YCW community. I love the image of taking in breathable air. Thanks!

  3. says:

    OK, make my cry too.I have wanted to attend and wasn’t able to in the previous conferences. And this year I so NEED to be there. But, alas, I have recently aged out and will be doing a series of radiation therapy in Houston, so I couldn’t come even if I was still 39. So any one who is wavering…just go already! You WILL be disappointed if you never do it. You WILL regret not giving yourself this tremendous gift!
    Now would someone please make a place for us who are not so young and yet not so old? Under 50 is still younger than the vast majority of the people we serve in proximity to!

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    check it out says:

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    • Michael Gyura
      Michael Gyura says:

      Thank you for your question. The Young Clergy Women Project website is hosted on the Worship Times Network. We have a dedicated box through Liquid Web that runs the network. We also use CloudFlare, Amazon S3 and MaxCDN as CDNs and cache software to speed things up. Hope this helps point you in the right direction. If you need hosting, you can contact me directly.


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