Today’s Word from Deacon Amy…
I just wrapped up three days of online meetings with pastors, deacons and bishops from Region 1 of the ELCA which includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska. There were 50 people present in these Zoom calls – that’s a lot of little boxes on the computer screen. In “normal times,” this would have been a 3-day retreat held at the Seabeck Conference Center on the Olympic Peninsula. Instead, we gathered online from our homes and offices, all across the region.
This event, called First Call Theological Education (FCTE), is a required conference for ELCA pastors and deacons who are serving in their first call. It is an annual event that we are expected to attend for our first three years in ordained ministry. It’s hard for me to believe that I was consecrated (they’ve since changed the term to ordained) two years ago this month. Time flies when you’re having fun!
The purpose of FCTE is to support new ministers. The ELCA wants to make sure that pastors and deacons are prepared, and cared for, throughout their first years. They want to make sure that we have the tools that we need to successfully navigate this calling, and they want to make sure that we are taking care of ourselves.
I feel blessed to be a part of this larger organization, the ELCA. I feel strongly connected and supported by other ministry professionals. Pastor Jim is a profound source of guidance and encouragement, as are Robin, Karl, and Laura. Our local bishop makes a point to reach out with phone calls and emails, checking in on me. I have monthly meetings with Youth Ministry leaders from our synod. I have mentors and colleagues who I can reach out to for advice and connection.
Perhaps best of all, I am blessed to serve in an amazing congregation who recognizes that we are “blessed to be a blessing.” I receive emails, cards, notes, and phone calls on a regular basis – congregation members calling to offer their love and thanks. I have more people volunteering to help than I have tasks for. This is truly a community that cares.
I feel so very lucky to be in this place, where love and respect flow in every direction. We are a community who appreciates each other. We are a community that has been called to be a blessing – and nobody here hesitates to fill that role. We are a beautiful church together.
Thank you for being the church where everybody is welcome, and everybody is cared for – including me.