The very first TiM gathering I attended was at a pizza parlor in Kearny, NE. Fresh out of seminary, there were boxes still waiting to be unloaded in the trunk of my vehicle from the long journey from Washington, D.C. back to the Midwest. To say that I was apprehensive or nervous about meeting my clergy peer group was a gross understatement. I knew nobody at that first pizza parlor gathering. I had not been a local pastor in the Great Plains conference or even gone to the same seminary with any of my peers. Yet while sitting with young clergy, eating greasy pies I felt at ease and had assurance that I would be connected with people who cared about my wellbeing. Later that evening, I remember going down to the hotel pool, (yes it was annual conference and hotel pools are a thing!) with two of my newest female clergy friends. We talked, giggled, got serious about life matters, and let all guards down because we sought to invest in each other’s flourishing in ministry. Those memories are cherished. I am grateful for the comradery and support through my TiM peers.
TiM friendships have set a healthy precedent for clergy collegiality that can help the UMC to be a better church. Sure, we all live hundreds of miles away from each other, but when we are reunited, it is like a family reunion. When TiM friends go through tough times, or life celebrations, there is a community praying and they have your back.
TiM friendships also help to build confidence in networking and building up a stronger support system. Each of the TiM gatherings are filled with people who care about their vocation, and wish to see the stronger. That is why the time and attention we spend during each gathering is worthwhile, because when our work, lives and call are affirmed and supported by others we become healthier pastors.