The first meeting of the Great Plains Association of Retired Clergy and Spouses in three years will attempt to bring some discernment about the past 24 months.
“Journeys of the Soul” will be online March 21-22, and the keynote speaker will be Dr. Lallene Rector, president emerita and associate professor of psychology and pastoral psychotherapy at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Watch Todd Seifert’s video interview with Rector.
Switching to an online webinar made the most sense considering the still-iffy situation regarding the pandemic, said the Rev. Rena Yocom, one of the organizers.
“We’re trying to do this one with a new model, because we think people aren’t wanting to gather or drive thousands of miles,” she said.
The theme, based on John Wesley’s timeless question of “How is it with your soul?” was appropriate for retired pastors and spouses who have made it through the pandemic, as well as uncertainty of the future of The United Methodist Church.
“All of us felt lost. Loss sometimes is personal, sometimes it’s identities, sometimes it’s loss of fellowship,” Yocom said. “For retired pastors at this moment in The United Methodist Church, there’s a sense that the church that we served isn’t there now and may not resurface the way we knew it in the past.”
Rector, the first female and the first lay person to serve as Garrett president, was a logical choice as speaker, said the Rev. Carol Roettmer Brewer, another event organizer.
“She has a great capacity to link the spiritual, the biblical and the psychological,” Brewer said. “She’s been great to work with and has enough experience that she can hear what concerns our clergy bring up.”
Clergy will be able to ask questions through the chat function on Zoom.
“She certainly has the caliber of a person who can help us process everything,” Yocom said. “We’re talking about the whole soul, the whole person.”
The cost of the webinar is $10 for individuals and $15 for couples and is open to active and retired clergy in the conference.
GPARCS was founded in 2014, the same year as the unification of the Great Plains Conference, and combined three former groups from Nebraska, Kansas East and Kansas West.
Brewer said the organizers of GPARCS want the conversation to continue beyond the March 21-22 webinar.
“Our long-term goal is to encourage retired clergy to meet in groups in person or online,” she said. “We still hope that will be something we can encourage.”
Contact David Burke, content specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.