Never Not the Minister

A few weeks ago, my better half ended up in the hospital for four days. His appendix burst in the middle of the night, and, as he is prone to doing, he was being tough. All of this resulted in the fact that we didn’t really get him to the hospital as quickly as we should have. Still, it all worked out as well as could reasonably be expected. They got him into surgery, fixed him up, and sent him home as quickly as they could, given the moderate risk of infection with a burst appendix.

It was scary and stressful, and I’m still not over the shock of realizing he and I might not be invincible after all. It was also the first time that I have been on the receiving end of my congregation’s big-hearted approach to pastoral care. I’m still reeling over how strange and wonderful that felt.

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The Other Woman: A Conversation Between Hagar and Sarah

This dramatic reading is a re-imagining of two of Abraham’s wives—Sarah and Hagar. It attempts to both respect and conflate the various interpretations of each woman in Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions, and among the African-American community. The women are trying to explain their historical lives, understand their present identities, and the connections between the two. The beginning and end should have a serious tone, while the middle sections are more conversational, as if they are figuring things out along with us.

It was originally performed by Elsa Peters and Stacy Smith at Union Theological Seminary in New York City in May 2006.

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My Elective in Musical Outreach

As my first year of seminary drew to a close, my friends and I decided that we needed to commemorate our survival of a particularly difficult class.  We kicked around several ideas, and ultimately we voted to raise a glass and take in the vocal stylings of some local “talent.”  In other words, we were going to a neighborhood dive for karaoke night.

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Sermon and the City

You are now reading into a moment when this minister wishes there was no church at all, so that she could enjoy a Saturday night like everyone else.

Tonight I wrote a sermon in the midst of a party I could not attend.

I live in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, a city that is currently teeming with the excitement of both St. Patrick’s Day weekend and the Big 10 Basketball Tournament.  I actually live across the street from Conseco Fieldhouse, where the tournament is being held.  I didn’t really choose this location because I love basketball, but for the energy and excitement of downtown life.  I moved into this building so it would be easy to meet people and have fun.  After living in New York City for three years, I was not too excited about biding my two-year fellowship in a garden apartment in the suburbs where I knew no one.  So I opted for a choice location right in the middle of it all.  Indianapolis is actually a pretty great city, and has a good downtown.  I can walk to Nordstrom’s and the Indy Repertory Theater and Sushi on the Rocks.  I live next door to a rowdy dueling piano bar.  The bartenders know my drink and I have met some great people in my building. 

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Taming the Busyness: Getting Organized and Staying That Way

Ministry is a high calling: a cliché, but also true. We have the joy and privilege of being present at the milestone events of life—births, weddings, deaths—what some of us call “hatch, match and dispatch” in our cheeky moments. One of the practical things I learned in seminary was this: when the call comes that a parishioner has died, hang up the phone, take out the calendar, and cancel any non-essential commitments for the next several days. The pastoral care and funeral are now the priorities. Then turn to the following year’s calendar and write a reminder to contact the family: “anniversary of Rose’s death—call her daughter.”

Tending to one’s calendar seems like a mundane activity in the midst of the emotional upheaval of a death—and it is. And yet our ministries are full of such moments. Yes, ours is a lofty calling, but we still need to get things done. There are plenty of urgent and important matters in ministry (death of a church member). Others are not urgent, but deeply important (our own self-care). Still other issues are merely urgent, but not important (insert your own example here). How do we organize our lives so as to make the best use of our time, while providing flexibility to respond to needs as they arise?

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Oh Mother, Where Art Thou?

It just happened again. I put down a copy of my seminary alumni magazine, after reading yet another article about how clergywomen can “have it all”. In the nearly seven years since my ordination and ten years since I began my seminary career, the drumbeats insisting that clergywomen can be both full-time pastors and full-time mothers have grown steadily louder and more resolute. Not only can we do this, the voices chorus, but we should do this. Evidently we owe it to the church to model the ways in which the best congregation can live out the ideals of the Christian family. This means ministry and mothering overlapping in as many ways and settings as one can imagine. It is now de rigueur for women pastors to describe their intertwined work and family life after the arrival of a child by boasting along the lines of, “I brought her to work and breastfed while wearing vestments.”

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New Art and Poetry

This month we are pleased to offer visual art and poetry together from two different artists, Mary Allison Cates (who created a series we featured in Advent) and Heidi Koschzec. Both works appear below the fold.

Do you sculpt? sew? shoot photos? string words together? We want to hear from you.

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Love Thy Neighbor


My seminary boyfriend broke up with me just a few days before I was supposed to go house-hunting.  It was my senior year, and I had just accepted an exciting new call as an assistant rector.  A girlfriend of mine named Mary peeled me off the floor of my dorm room and insisted on driving me to look for houses in this town in which I had never visited, much less lived.  Moving away from all that I knew felt terrifying. Mary metaphorically held my hand while we visited apartment after apartment, until I found "the one."  The townhouse was brand new, painted a cheerful cream, in a somewhat Pleasantville-like neighborhood.  Mine was a sweet two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath, with a rent in the outer limits of what I could afford.

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Good Friday: A Service of Shadows and Stones

Our congregation has used Taizé, Tenebrae, and narratives of the Passion in past Good Friday services. I grew up in a congregation that often used the 7 last words of Christ as a focal point. I wrote this liturgy to combine some of these elements, but also wanting to add some concrete way for people to respond. I came up with the idea of using stones: stones as worry stones; stones as weights; stones as symbols of altars built where people have an encounter with God; and stones as used in modern Judaism to leave at a grave site as a way to honor the memory of the deceased.

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Why College Chaplaincy?

An Imaginary dialogue between a college student and her chaplain.

Student: Chaplain
Kate, I have to interview someone for my First Year Seminar class. Would you mind if I asked you a few

Chaplain: That sounds
fine to me. What are you researching? 

S: Well, we were supposed to interview a professional woman
about her job. I was kinda curious about
why you are a chaplain so I thought I’d ask you, if that’s okay, that is…um,
well, and if you have time…

C: That sounds good
to me. I’ve got some spare time
now. Ask away.

S: So why are you a chaplain?

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