Tricia Hersey didn’t discover rest as resistance when she had the time or the money to rest. She began resting as resistance in the midst of one of the busiest times in her own life while she was a seminarian and a single working mom. This she says is what we must all do in order to counter the impact and influence of capitalism on our bodies and souls. Hersey’s Rest is Resistance* is a powerful recounting of her story as a black working mom to bring rest not only to her own life, but to the lineage of ancestors who were forced to labor as enslaved people and then as people enslaved to grind culture of capitalism. Read more
Susan is a pastor transitioning to a new call. While introducing herself to the congregations, she engaged in conversation that one would expect around ministry, such as balancing time. But when a question came up about whether she was even trying to date or was just a workaholic, it gave her more pause. The process of examining what is said or unsaid can often leave us feeling vulnerable and exposed. It required peeling back the layers.
All clergy face certain expectations dictated by their social locations; I interviewed fellow single clergywomen about the expectations we face. During that process, I noticed a pattern of these same clergywomen needing to make decisions around how to engage statements or questions that called for deeper exploration, their journeys of helping people work through the layers.
This devotional is the final installment in a series exploring the kinship between the Heroine’s Journey as established by Maureen Murdock, my lived experience of ministry as a female clergy person, and a few familiar fictional characters. Each devotional ends with a blessing for the Heroine at that stage of the journey. In the previous post, we examined the ninth step when the Heroine learns how to assert their authority and expertise on their own terms.
In the tenth and final step of the journey, the Heroine recognizes and embodies the paradoxes of life with grace and humility: self and other, brokenness and wholeness, wildness and consistency, individuality and community, vulnerability and power. They appreciate the wondrous complexity of the world and move through it with confidence. Having been made, unmade, and remade, they understand the demands of transformation and how to guide others through the process toward healing and wholeness.
Although I work in a specialized setting of a state psychiatric hospital, when speaking to church pastors I sometimes recognize behaviors and problems they describe as having similarities to those I witness in the psych hospital. Some of those are similar to people with Borderline Personality Disorder, some bring to mind folks who have experienced trauma, and still others remind me of the patients I work with who have either Antisocial or Narcissistic Personality Disorder. To learn more about how to provide pastoral care in a parish setting to those with these traits I interviewed The Rev. MaryJane Inman, BCC, Chaplain at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital. The Rev. Inman is a PCUSA ordained pastor and has been a chaplain for 24 years. She has many years of experience working with men and women with these traits and she shared her wisdom with me.
“Would you be asked to do that if you were married?” My friend Catherine always cuts to the heart of the matter, not mincing words. She is the person who calls out the disparity in expectations that congregations hold, either explicitly or implicitly, between single and married clergywomen. She is the voice that calls me back to reality.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), depression and anxiety are the most common mental illnesses diagnosed in the United States. With almost a third of adults experiencing symptoms related to one or both of these illnesses, chances are you will have folks with these struggles in your congregation. In my setting, a state psychiatric hospital, the people I see with anxiety and depression are going through an extremely difficult time and dealing with experiences that are beyond their level of coping. Still, some of the lessons I have learned can be applied to the parish setting as well.
Venus figurines are among the oldest pieces of art humans have created. Through them we can see that there is an ancient relationship between figurines and the elevation of some kind of ideal on behalf of a community or culture. Venuses in their many forms have represented the ideal feminine or feminine power throughout the ages. Mattel’s Barbie doll is a very recent addition to the Venus lineage. Prehistoric Venuses are voluptuous and plump – a visual representation of a voracious fecundity. The Barbie that most of us grew up with appears to be missing a couple of ribs in order to be both curvy and slim. She represents the industrial West’s hope for freedom from the demands of the fleshiness of life. She insists that one might be able to both give birth and keep their figure.
In Greta Gerwig’s recent fantasy comedy Barbie, early on the audience is introduced to Stereotypical Barbie as she wakes up in her giant seashell bed, a reference to “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli. Soon Barbie’s world is turned upside down because she is unable to suppress her persistent thoughts of death. As I watched her dilemma unfold, I realized that viewers would be embarking on a journey of an epic scale. It is a primal journey that has echoed throughout human history and storytelling.
For most church pastors, it can be intimidating to consider giving pastoral care to someone with a psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia, or someone who is paranoid. People who face a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder make up approximately 1% of the adult population in the United States. The vast majority of people with such a diagnosis are able to manage their symptoms and utilize outpatient or short-term in-patient treatments. You will likely encounter someone who has had a non-reality based experience in their life. Having a basic awareness of how to interact with them and how to best deliver pastoral care will serve you well in ministry. Read more
Dear YCWI Community,
As we move forward in our work to ensure the diversity of our membership is reflected in our Board, we are creating an independent Nominating Committee.
The Nominating Committee will be composed of 5 members of the organization and 1 current board member. This group will work to recruit and identify the next class of board members as well as the next nominating committee.
Members of the Nominating Committee shall serve a term 1 year in length, will not be eligible for consecutive terms, and will not be eligible for board nomination while serving on the nominating committee. (Typically, the term of this committee would begin on January 1 and end December 31. However, this first committee will begin their service September 1, 2023 and end December 31, 2023.)
The Nominating Committee will communicate the opportunity to serve on the board with the full organization, collect appropriate information from nominees (either from self or other nominations), interview prospective board members, and present a slate of members for the board. The same process will be followed to nominate the consecutive Nominating Committee. We anticipate that the Nominating Committee members will spend approximately 1-2 hours per week for 10 weeks (up to 20 hours total) on this work by the end of the year.
The Nominating Committee shall work to ensure that the board represents diversity in support of the mission, vision, and values of the organization. They will be transparent in denominational affiliations and encourage a broadly representative board makeup.
The Executive Committee is currently seeking members of the organization to serve in this first Nominating Committee. If you are interested, please complete this form.
(For those interested in serving on the Board, please look for more information at the beginning of September!)
Please contact the Executive Committee with any questions by emailing email@example.com.
We appreciate your prayerful consideration of the ways you are being called to serve YCWI and the way you champion our work together.
The Rev. Alina S. Gayeuski, Chair
The Rev. Kate Mackereth Fulton, Vice Chair
The Rev. Laura Kisthardt, Treasurer
The Rev. Diane Kenaston, Secretary
Prayer of the Day
God of abundance, You provide all that we need. Thank you for your gifts of bread and fish, grass and grain, care and rest. Give us eyes to recognize all that you have given us, and turn us into a generous people, willing to share what we have with joy and compassion, trusting that, in you, there is always enough. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.
Commentary on Matthew 14:22-33
I live in the Midwest. Right now, in the middle of summer, parched due to lack of rain, the grass that surrounds me is primarily brown, with a few splotches of light green and even fewer splotches of bright, vivid green.
Living in the central plains of North America, grass (no matter its color) is abundant. It is everywhere. It surrounds people’s homes, it covers football fields and soccer fields, and it lines the side of every road. Grass is a common, mundane thing here, often overlooked and taken for granted. Read more