This has been a hard year, hasn’t it? Between the “typical” challenges of pastoral leadership, the last few years have brought a great deal of conflict and pressure in the lives of clergy. We do not want to gloss over or minimize the challenges, and yet, our theology compels us forward. Psalm 126:5 is our banner: “Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy!” The opportunity for tears has been plentiful. Is it possible for a harvest of joy to be on the horizon?
For Summer 2021, At the Threshold will be “Proclaiming Great Joy.” Instead of providing interviews with people who can help us navigate the liminal season of the pandemic, we are collecting stories of joy that clergy are experiencing. Starting the week of June 21 and continuing over the course of the summer, we will release episodes in video and podcast form. As a way of connecting for conversation (and hopefully exhortation of one another), we invite pastors to gather via Zoom once in June, July, and August so that we might encourage one another to continue on in this hard and important work of pastoring God’s people in the Great Plains. Those who join at least two of the three sessions will receive a “Joy Box” full of some resources and items that help pastors plant—and harvest—seeds of joy in their lives and communities.
This first episode in our seriessets the tone by sharing why we’re talking about joy right now and introduces you to the stories of three clergy: Cathy Holley of New Covenant UMC in Wichita and Norwich UMC in Norwich, Kansas; Jim Reed, retired elder living in Manhattan; and Susan Murithi, serving St. Paul UMC in St. Paul, Nebraska. We invite you to watch and share these stories, and consider where joy might be growing in your own life and community as well! Listen to the podcast.
This second episode continues the conversation about how pastors are finding joy in this season. Hear the stories of: Ever Mudambanuki of First UMC of Nebraska City, NE; Amy Lippoldt of St. Paul UMC of Papillion, NE; and Kathy Symes of Wellsville and Clearfield UMC’s in Wellsville and Clearfield, KS. Listen to the podcast.
Episode Three is a delightful conversation about joy in which you can hear the stories of: Eduardo Bousson, University Minister at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, NE; Kirstie Engel of First United Methodist Church in Lincoln, NE; and Velma Tim, of LaCygne and New Lancaster UMCs in Kansas. Listen to the podcast (coming soon). Listen to the podcast.
Episode Four invites you to consider the connection between gratitude and joy. Take a look to hear the stories of Jeff Goetzinger of Little River and Mitchell Chapel UMC’s in KS; Juan Carlos Veloso of Grace UMC in Omaha, NE; and Changsu Kim of Shawnee UMC, in Shawnee, KS. Listen to the podcast.
Episode Five includes two more testimonies and a reflection on some of what we heard throughout these five episodes. The guests are Rev. Karla Sheffy of First UMC in Emporia and Rev. Eric Meyer of Trinity UMC in Salina. Listen to the podcast.
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