The odd and wondrous calling of a new pastor
A brief reflection from a participant in the Presbyterian Mission Agency program Company of New Pastors
By Karen Ware Jackson
My husband and I are both in full-time ministry, and we have certainly experienced our share of both the challenges and blessings of new pastors. Amid efforts to form a pastoral identity—both as individuals and as a couple—we struggled to balance work and family life and experienced great success as well as heart-wrenching failure in ministry. To borrow from Lillian Daniel and Martin B. Copenhaver, this is an odd and wondrous calling. It is complicated and fraught with great peril and great joy. We need support and challenge to make it through. We need fresh eyes and empathetic hearts to help us discern God’s calling in the midst of the chaos.
And that’s where Company of New Pastors stepped in. A community of colleagues and mentors in ministry designed to nurture and sustain pastoral leadership, Company of New Pastors provided us with the fresh eyes and empathetic hearts we needed to discern God’s calling amid the chaos of daily life. Together we read Scripture, worshiped, and shared struggles and successes. Our conversations were cathartic and funny; they were personal and caring; they were deeply honest and full of truth. They were the kind of conversations that bring great analysis and insight to tough situations, then move to strong support and encouragement. They were rare and beautiful and life-giving. I still find myself reaching out to this group for wisdom and support. Just yesterday I called one of our mentors for her loving and sound guidance.
The company of these pastors, both new and experienced, made all the difference.
Karen Ware Jackson is the associate pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Ohio.
To get involved with Company of New Pastors or find out more: pcusa.org/theology
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