Post Author: Diana Carroll
If you are anything like me, you receive a lot of requests for donations this time of year. You’ve probably been hearing from a multitude of non-profit organizations throughout the fall, and now every single one of them is reminding you (via email, snail mail, and a phone call) that this is your last chance to contribute in 2015.
Due to my tendency toward procrastination, it has become something of a New Year’s Eve tradition for my wife and I to sit down together wherever we might be on December 31 and make the donations we have been intending to make all along. We’ve even been known to pack the stack of request letters and take them with us as we visit family, because we haven’t managed to get it done before Christmas.
One of the few exceptions to this pattern is The Young Clergy Women Project. Last year, when TYCWP made its first annual fundraising appeal, we set up a monthly recurring donation, so that we will never have to try to remember whether or not we have given. Supporting TYCWP is one of our top priorities, right beside giving to our churches, because of what this community means to us. You can join us by making a donation at youngclergywomen.org/donate.
As we celebrate this season of giving and receiving, here are some of the gifts that our members say TYCWP has given to them:
“In many of our members’ contexts, the fact that they are a young clergy woman is the most remarkable thing about them. Here, it’s not remarkable, which means there is a space for the other things that are remarkable about us to be noticed and celebrated.”
“Our ecumenical nature helps us learn about other traditions. We come wanting to understand others and wanting others to understand us. It’s a non-judgmental place to make that happen.”
“We are each other’s weirdos. We have all of these great subgroups where folks who have a niche within a niche can go. TYCWP gives folks a reference point to say there is a place where I fit, and there are other people who can help me think about what that looks like in my own context.”
“We offer multiple fast tracks to being published, including Fidelia’s Sisters and our partnership with Chalice Press.”
“At a TYCWP conference, I was discerning my next call. I met a colleague in another denomination who lived near the city I eventually moved to. She quickly became my closest colleague in ministry. The connections we make are not just online, but also in person.”
“TYCWP helps members understand they can be who they are in ministry, and that they don’t have to act like men to be successful.”
“Our group allows our members a place where people care for them. As a pastor, you’re rarely in a position to ask your own congregation for prayer. Once you’re a pastor in a group full of pastors, no one cares that you’re a pastor. You can say, ‘I need prayer,’ and a hundred people will lift you up. That’s a really unique gift.”
“For those who didn’t grow up or go to seminary in places where we had more than a few examples of women in ministry leadership, it is helpful in terms of developing a pastoral identity to see so many women who are so different in ministry being successful.”
“TYCWP provides an opportunity to be human and still be seen as a professional. There is space to say, ‘I screwed up’ or ‘I’m a hot mess.’ You can feel all your feelings and people will still think you’re quite competent and capable in ministry.”
“There is a sense of having each other’s backs in the real world. I never would have thought that a Presbyterian pastor would be the person who helped a Quaker pastor find a new call. One was the top reference for the other in the job search, even though they had never met in person.”
“TYCWP gives us an alternative to the narrative of the larger church. We have so much to be anxious about in the larger narrative of mainline Christianity. In TYCWP, ours is a narrative of abundance. There is enough. Let’s share authority.”
“We are normalizing the situations that we are in. So many project members are solo, part-time, or associates. It’s really easy as a solo pastor in a small, struggling parish to feel like you’re at fault if the church isn’t growing. To come here and realize this is part of a much larger social and structural occurrence means that maybe I’m not the death of the church. We’re just young women who have gotten shunted into these kinds of positions.”
“In so much of the rest of the church, the emphasis is on my youth, even though I’ve been ordained ten years. It’s nice to be in a place where my experience is valued and where I can be in the position of mentoring others.”
Please take a moment today to make a contribution to The Young Clergy Women Project at youngclergywomen.org/donate. If all of the reasons above were not enough, here is one more. This article will publish on December 29, which is my birthday. If you donate to TYCWP, you don’t even have to send me a card.
Diana Carroll is Development Coordinator for The Young Clergy Women Project and editor of Holy Ghost Grab Bag. She serves as the nearly full-time rector of St. Luke’s Eastport, a small, warm, and deeply generous congregation in Annapolis, Maryland.
Image by: Suzanne Stovall Vinson
Used with permission