So I spent the last week back in Kansas City in the company of a group of the best dang ministers you will ever meet.
Yes, the best. There is no argument. If you try to argue with me, you will lose. I have spoken it.
Bethany Fellows is a clergy group that has been around since 1999 to provide mentoring and fellowship for new under-40 clergy. There are currently three groups – a dedicated group for clergy of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), an ecumenical clergy group, and a group for clergy on the West Coast. Each group meets twice per year, for a week each time. I’ve been part of the ecumenical group since April of 2015, having participated in four retreats, with four left to go.
Back in April, I attended our retreat in Orlando, three months into my unexpected sabbatical from ministry. At the time, I truthfully thought that I was in a relatively good mental and emotional space.
HOWEVER. Over the course of this last retreat, I had easily half a dozen of my colleagues tell me how much happier I seemed than back in April. No doubt, moving to Lexington and beginning my new ministry at Central helped; however, I think that the week in Orlando back in April helped steer me in the right direction.
You see, the people in the Bethany ecumenical group are among the greatest blessings I have ever encountered. My small group, which includes Alex, a Disciples minister from Michigan, Karakay, a Disciples minister from here in Kentucky, and Jason, a Baptist minister from San Jose, are a group of people who are just as quirky and weird as I am, which makes it that much easier to talk to them about all the issues I deal with in ministry.
Now, everybody else in the ecumenical clergy group is definitely a blessing to me, but there’s two other people who really stood out to me at this retreat: Arthur, who has no time for pretension (and is, in fact, one of the people who I think steered me onto the right path leaving the Orlando retreat back in April); and Jackie, who I never really talked with a whole lot during the first two retreats we were both at, but on this one really managed to establish a good connection with her and got to know her better (you know, just in time for her to graduate out of the program).
And above and beyond all of that, of course, is the fact that Caitie is in the ecumenical clergy group, but let’s be real – she’s a blessing to me every hour of every day.
I have four more retreats to go, the next one of which is in my home in the midst of the Sonoran Desert – Phoenix. I have no doubt that each of them will continue to be a blessing just as the four that have gone before have been.