Yesterday I spent the day with several of the other "younger" clergy in our Conference. It is refreshing to know that I am still younger, if not young! And, by the way things looking with the demographics of our Conference, I will be "younger" for several more years. In order to give it a more precise definition, one of the organizers of the event said a "younger" clergy is anyone who plans to still be in active ministry in 2040. God willing, I guess that includes me.
It was nice to gather to simply share lunch and meet each other. While I knew most of the people in attendance, there were a few new faces. As for the program, I'm not really sure what was gained besides a deepening sense of fellowship. The Bishop joined us for the day and shared information about General Conference. He communicated some of the visioning work done in our Conference around growth and growing-edges and asked us to reflect on it. Personally I didn't feel particularly inspired by this format. Although I probably could not have articulated it before the event, my real interest was in hearing the concerns and joys, challenges and celebrations of my fellow "younger" clergy. Where do you connect with God? Where do you feel the most pain in ministry? How do you juggle family and the church? How can we support each other?
There was some talk about continuing the conversation. As many of us traveled significant distances to get together, it is impractical to think that we would be able to meet on a regular basis. The development of some kind of on-line community was suggested. I offered to put up a "Younger" Clergy blog (with help from others) which will be linked to the NEUMC wesbite. While I am a big fan of on-line communities, I wonder how much a NEUMC "Younger" Clergy blog will be used. I'm not intending to be pessimistic, but the truth is we are all so busy.
Perhaps the blog will be a place to begin to ask the questions I mentioned above. Perhaps not. Either way, I'm willing to give it a try. I do think, though, that we need to find ways to connect and get real with each other and form some kind of supportive community. We have the next 32 years together in ministry so we may as well make the best of it!