TiM program reflections - Blake Stanwood

Transition into Ministry Program


When taking a look at the prompts for a narrative reflection for the TiM program experience so far in the context of my ministry and experience, I absolutely loved the idea of sharing with others who might be interested about my own journey in this process.

            Thinking back to when I first heard about the Transition into Ministry Program for the first time, I remember being in my second year of seminary and getting a phone call about the program and then an email, and then finding the coordinator of the program actually at the seminary I attended one day in between classes. It sounded really intriguing and like a potentially really good program to apply for. Although to be honest with you I wasn’t sold, let alone wanted to fill out another application for something in the midst of the ordination process and paperwork on top of seminary assignments and papers to write. So… you might be able so say I was skeptical about applying at first. However, once I spent some time in prayer and discernment and when it came time to apply for the program once graduation from seminary was in sight, I was gently encouraged again from the coordinator as well, and I applied.

            I had really no clue what was in store for the in-person interview for this program or really what this program could lead to, but was continuously encouraged none the less by others who had been accepted into the program and by the coordinator of the program. When I arrived at the district office in Topeka, I was the only one in the receiving area and I had gotten there about 45 minutes early to review some of my notes. I sat quietly in the reception area, until I heard the door to the office open, and of all people it was the Bishop of the conference. He sat down next to me and we started talking about everything under the sun. When it became time to actually go in for my interview, I didn’t know what to do the Bishop was still talking to me and the person who was bringing me back the interview room was given a single pointer finger in the air indicating that he wanted more time to converse. It was one of the most unique situations I have ever been in, but the bishop closed in prayer and in encouragement with me and told me this was a great program. Once the interview process started the Bishop then walked into the room and patted me on the back and gave the interview team a thumbs up and proceeded to walk back out of the interview room.

            Fast forward to a week or so later, I received a phone call from my Kansas City District DS, and he informed me that I had made it into the TiM program and that I should be receiving a call from the Hays-Salina DS in the near future. I was perplexed as to what all this meant, but really excited to have officially found out about making it into the TiM program. Moments later the Hay-Salina DS called me and asked if I would be willing to accept an appointment in Western Kansas to a town I had never heard of and honestly had to google to find out where it was. After speaking with my fiancé and family I called back immediately and accepted the first full-time, solo-pastor appointment within the context of the ministry I had served in. Phillipsburg, Kansas here we go!

            After several meetings and conversations that occur with the DS and the church that you are departing from and the church that you have been appointed to. The reality sunk in, that I would be moving to a place I knew nothing about, and was a rural context, when all I had ever known was an urban context. It was a whirlwind of a start, filled with excitement, joy, and apprehension.

            However, little did I know what was in store. This appointment in connection to the TiM program led to amazing relationships, connection, and development as a young clergy person. I quickly realized that this program was one of the greatest blessings in my life and felt so blessed to be a part of. The TiM program connected me with a fantastic mentor serving a church relatively close by, who has been a major asset in the ordination process, in serving a new context of ministry, and a resource for many other different elements of ministry, as well as a great friend through this program and transition. The fellow clergy that are in this program have also been phenomenal bringing into connection wonderful contributions from their own origins and experiences. This group of TiM pastors has also been crucial in maintaining the discipline of Christian Conference and uplifting one another in ministry and in life. The coordinator of this program is fantastic and works alongside you and your mentor in fantastic ways for the betterment of the context of your ministry as well as growth as a pastor always willing to help and guide you through this conference and the ministry that you encounter every day and throughout the year. But wait, it doesn’t stop there, the resources and materials that gain from outside speakers at retreats and spiritual development as a whole greatly contribute to successes in ministry and opening yourself up to the possibilities of the way that God is working and continues to work through you and others within your ministry setting and the conference.

            I am an advocate for this program and always will be. If you are interested in what this may mean for you and the future of your ministry, I’d be happy to share more with you.