Thank you, Great Plains Clergy, for the multitude of ways you continue to live out your call to ministry. The stories of what is unfolding of how God is at work in and through you and those around you are incredible. Christ's light is shining in abundant measure because of you.
I also see some clergy who are exhausted. You have been putting in so many hours in your preparations for Advent, decisions that must be made, grief work that is before you, and ministering to and with your mission fields.
To aid you in this time, thanks to Rev. Dr. Lisa Wiens Thompson, an Elder in the Great Plains Conference, and Clergy Excellence Office, there is a gift available to clergy of the Great Plains Conference. Rev. Thompson has created a devotional resource called “Seasons of Health and Wholeness: Advent to Pentecost.” This resource provides weekly guides to scripture, song, theology of the body, times of reflection, and practical liturgy. It is designed to nourish your body, mind and spirit. It can be explored on your own, with a prayer partner, or small group.
For those who wish to participate with others, Rev. Thompson is also offering a zoom class on Wednesday evenings where she will lead individuals and families through this resource together. The group will meet at 7 p.m. CT, starting tonight, on Dec. 2. For more information on joining this class, please email Rev. Thompson directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if you are unable to join tonight, but are interested and would like to join in the weeks ahead, you are welcome to be a part of this class.
Here is a note from Rev. Dr. Thompson for you, the clergy of the Great Plains Conference.
Any given day of any given year clergy and those in leadership of faith communities have a knack of managing and leading in stressful situations. Now let’s add a global pandemic, divided ideas of worshipping in that context and remaining faithful to your call to preach the Gospel. Romans calls us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice… not to sacrifice our bodies. There is a difference.
You are invited to embark on a new study and adventure of the body, mind and spirit of health and wholeness. Seasons of Health and Wholeness is a six-month study for two reasons:
It takes about six months to make real change and create and sustain new habits.
The high season of the Christian year begins with Advent through to the Feast day of Pentecost and is about six months.
Truth: Some people are managing the current context very well.
Truth: You are not a failure if this has presented more challenges than your whole self was equipped and prepared to manage.
My name is Lisa Wiens Thompson, an ordained elder transplant from the Oklahoma Conference. Nearly two decades ago, I created a study for clergy health and wholeness while serving the Oklahoma conference for my Doctor of Ministry from Southern Methodist University. I worked with the conference staff and nearly 40 elders participated in my study. When actually used and followed … YOU create new space in your life to honor the body.
Personally, after “shelving” my work for so long and “surviving” not thriving in this year, I wanted to get back on track and dust off what I have experienced to be LIFE GIVING and tightly woven into my faith. When actually used, not just received and covered with papers never to be read, considering health and wholeness as a way of honoring the body and honoring the Body, we have an opportunity to establish roots of a renewed discipline to live out what it means to be the Church.
My study is called, “Seasons of Health and Wholeness.” It is protected under the “details of doctoral work” and may not be used without my permission. I invite you to use it in small groups, with your churches, and/or as a personal devotion. Those who do sign up through the Clergy Excellence Office, will be invited to participate in a pre- and post-survey. Your feedback will be appreciated as I tweak it and prepare it for publication. I’ve updated it to include some considerations of our current context.
Seasons of Health and Wholeness is open to all clergy… local pastors, commissioned, ordained or retired. This is an invitation to encourage and renew minds!
This of ourselves… and those we lead.
My hope is that by participating in a curriculum that encompasses the Christian calendar year beginning this year at Advent (I know, it’s already here … but I trust you can catch up! I’m nothing if not flexible!) until Pentecost of 2021. The study is based in scripture, theology of the body, and a liturgical practice. Clergy leadership will be able to move closer to health and wholeness and guide the laity of our worshipping church Body to do the same. Bonus … you may even get some ideas for sermons!
Myth: this is not a weight loss program, not an exercise program, though that could happen! Health and wholeness is not just about being a certain weight or running a marathon. Finding balance and truly wanting to become a living sacrifice that we may model the body of Christ in our congregations.
A QUICK NOTE
It is possible to start last minute… I threw it together within a week for our church and people are ready to make a change. We are meeting through Zoom once a week and the persons who have chosen to participate range through all of the decades from 20-80. It speaks to men and women and even children and youth.