Friends United Meeting Interim Communications Manager/Editor Annie Glen brings us today's post as part of our ongoing series of profiles of ESR graduates:
I cannot believe it has been eight years since I first stepped into my initial class at ESR! The first day I was fresh with excitement about the knowledge I would glean in the next three years. I was inspired by the fact ESR would offer me the opportunity to take classes within a Quaker atmosphere in the field of counseling. All of the coursework listed in the catalog from DSM IV to Addictions Counseling made me full of hope.
Hope was shattered at the end of my first semester upon the revelation those classes were no longer going to be offered. In an incredulous prayer I asked God for direction. Quite frankly I had a clear sense I was to be enrolled at ESR. But, why? Why was I led to be at ESR?
I felt I was lured to ESR through false pretenses. I firmly believed God had deceived me. My anger and bitterness at the Divine created quite a buttress around my soul. I would continue taking classes because I had no other options, and no sense of direction.
I was and still am from an un-programmed background. Therefore, I was not led to be a pastor and refused to take any classes to prepare for a pastoral job. At that time, I firmly held the belief that seeking God was each member’s responsibility. One person did not have the role of listening and speaking out of the Silence. Pastoring in my eyes was allowing the Meeting to be passive in their walk with Christ, giving the work of seeking the Divine to one person. I wanted nothing to do with it.
The field of counseling offered the path of reconciliation and hope for those who struggled along life’s journey. Reconciliation was my calling, not pastoring.
What I have learned since that time is the ministry of reconciliation comes in many forms: one of them is through the ministry of pastoring. I have found when one cares for people one walks in the capacity of a pastor. Along the journey we are confronted with many individuals - some of whom need support, caring, and guidance. They don’t need pontification – that is someone lecturing to them. They need a listening ear, prayerful presence and the space to work out the issues confronting their life. In essence, they want a fellow journeyperson - or someone who will lead them to a place of peace.
Since the time of bitterness, healing has transpired and I found my heart. In it, I found a gift of compassion, care and tenderness toward those who journey along side me. Wrapped within my soul was the spiritual gift of being a pastor. It is expressed through many ways, not necessarily on a Sunday morning speaking to a congregation. It is expressed by walking with another, by being present, listening intentionally to the message arising within their soul and pointing to the beauty of that of God within them.
Kokomo First Friends
The gift I found and the ministry I continue started a long time ago when I received the words found in Psalm 40: 1-3 as a personal word from the Healer. At that time, I physically felt God had turned his ear to my plea, pulled me out of a miry bog, set my feet upon a rock and placed a new song in my mouth for many to hear.
Essentially, I have a new song I sing because of the Grace surrounding me as I travel the path of this life. The greatest lesson taught by ESR was to authentically share the ministry of God. Mine is a song shared through the ministry of caring –the ministry of being a pastor.
Although my position has changed since I was a pastor at Kokomo First Friends, I find myself not leaving the role of pastor even though it is not my career title. It is the calling to which I must be true. The song placed in my mouth years ago still must be sung. I share my ministry of caring with many and will continue for years to come whether I have the job called pastor or not. It is a ministry of the heart. My heart cares and wishes to lead people to a place of salvation – of reconciliation -- and I will continue to do so.