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The July 2016 Conference of The Young Clergy Women Project, Boston University

Loving The Young Clergy Women Project

The July 2016 Conference of The Young Clergy Women Project, Boston University

The July 2016 Conference of The Young Clergy Women Project, Boston University

A few weeks ago, my family and I made our way down Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, in search of a room in Boston University’s School of Theology where I would share the next three days with a hundred clergy women from many denominations. I was, uncharacteristically, a little nervous. What if I didn’t know anyone? What if no one cared that I was there? What if they were annoyed that I was there, since technically I had already graduated from The Young Clergy Women Project eight days earlier?

As soon as I entered the room where we were gathering, my fears melted away. I spotted a couple of familiar faces from Facebook, then a few more, and then I ran into one of my favorite UCC colleagues and her face reminded me why I’d come to The Project in the first place. I came for the friendships and for the professional bonds that connect us as women in ministry in a world that both relies on women for emotional and household labor AND undervalues the worth of our work at home and in the workplace. I came for the fierceness, the laughter, and the tears. I came for the culture where finding excellent child care is a normal part of conference planning, and where mamas hand off their babies to any willing set of hands. I came for the worship and the workshops, for the time spent lingering over meals and the time spent laughing over drinks. (I came also, it must be fairly said, for the swag.)

I did not expect how much this group would mean to me. Read more

Thanks & Giving

CommunionBreadWineFall is a time of giving thanks in many cultures, particularly in the northern hemisphere, as it is our season of harvest. Fall is also the time of the annual giving campaign in many churches, also known as “stewardship season” or “pledge season.” Many people love celebrating Thanksgiving or Harvest Festival or similar holidays, but they dread coming to church to hear how they need to give more money to keep the lights on or pay the pastor.

Giving thanks and giving to others are both central to a life of faith, but we don’t always connect the dots between the two. There is an intimate relationship between thankfulness and generosity, between giving thanks and just plain giving. Genuine gratitude rarely stops at words or thoughts alone. It spills over into actions, gifts, service, cards. Gratitude transforms people and encourages them to respond to generosity with more generosity.

During the month of November, The Young Clergy Women Project would like to share with you the things that we are grateful for. We would also like to share the ways that gratitude has (sometimes) made us more generous. All of the articles on Fidelia’s Sisters in November will be related to the themes of gratitude and generosity. We invite you to share your photos and thoughts of giving thanks, giving back, and giving generously using the hashtag #ThanksLiving14 on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever platform you prefer! Each day, we’ll offer a different word to inspire your images and stories.

At Fidelia’s Sisters, our archive of articles bears witness to the reality that life as a young clergy woman is often very hard. But it is also often very joyful. Like all human beings, we young clergy women can easily find ourselves focusing only on the negative side of our experiences. We forget to acknowledge and share the good stuff: the moments of grace and glory. We need to be reminded to stop and give thanks for the gifts we have received and the ones we’ve been enabled to give.

Thanks and Giving

Pumpkin handsI teach my son thankfulness and the practices of gratitude. I teach him to say “thank you” when someone gives him something. As soon as he learns his letters I will teach him to write thank you notes. We say prayers before bed every night (Okay, most nights; bedtime is hard) and that includes thanks to God for the good things in our lives.

I teach my congregation the same things: we say prayers of thanks throughout our Sunday services. We send thank you cards to those who help us in ministry. We say “grace,” which usually amounts to a prayer of gratitude to God, before all our church-wide meals.

Yet, there’s something about all of these thanks-giving practices that bothers me a little bit. Yes, when my heart feels ready to burst with gratitude because of something good in my life, I want to pray to God to say thanks, and I do. And yes, I believe that even when we are struggling, even when things are difficult, there is still much to be thankful for and we should express that gratitude. But even though I live and teach these ideas about thankfulness, I have always had an undeniable bit of discomfort with this giving of thanks. Read more

A Generous Equation

She was not wrong.

I hate math. And numbers. And chores and errands and paperwork and details, and anything that requires my right brain to wake up and pay attention. As strongly as I felt the call to pastoral ministry, I’m not gonna lie—if Algebra had been required for an MDiv, I’d probably be a copy editor right now.

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