Ministry in Context

Good words from a bishop

 “We are really feeling good about the recent seminary grads; you should know that.”

Such a comment is always welcome, of course. But the context of the comment was particularly encouraging. It came in the midst of a lengthy conversation I was having with one of our ELCA bishops, and the “we” he referenced was his bishop colleagues.

That does not mean everything is perfect. There may well be “other opinions.” Our conversation covered a lot of ground, including a few pastoral situations that were not going so well. We talked about how to enhance the First Call Theological Education experience for new pastors and how to provide coaching/colleagues/mentors to help pastors and ministries flourish.

Neither this particular bishop nor any other that I have ever known has any illusions about the reality of the “sinner” part of “sinner/saint” among parishioners or among clergy. We talked about how to improve some of the seminary journey to try to cover some of the traditional areas where first-call pastors struggle. We talked about how to enhance the partnership between seminaries and synods, and a host of other things.

Still, given all the challenges and foibles in our lives, I deeply appreciated this unsolicited comment from a savvy bishop who has a good handle on the realities of life and ministry: “We are really feeling good about the recent seminary grads; you should know that.”

It is a generalization, of course. And we spent plenty of time reflecting on some of the frustrations and failings that mark our common lives. But still…I appreciated his words. And judging from the seminarians I know, I share that opinion.

 

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