A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast

Episode 25: COVID Blame Game, Church Membership & Advice for First Call!

August 19, 2021 Simon Doong and Lee Catoe Season 1 Episode 25
A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast
Episode 25: COVID Blame Game, Church Membership & Advice for First Call!
Show Notes Transcript

Questions for the Week:

  • The CDC has recently recommended that people resume wearing masks indoors again, even if you are vaccinated. How do we help folks process this change? Further, as COVID cases surge, it can be easy to blame the unvaccinated. As people of faith, how do we help people avoid "blame" but still push for change?
  • I've been wondering about the significance and meaning of church membership for our denomination. People keep talking about declining membership in our congregations. Maybe it’s our definition and understanding of membership that needs to change. What do you think?

Special Guest:
Timothy Wotring, Pastor, Memorial Presbyterian Church of Fox Chase

Guest Question:
I am about to start my first call as pastor to a congregation. My question is for folks who are about a year or so into their first call: Looking back on your first year as an ordained pastor serving a congregation, what guidance or advice would you give to someone who is just about to start their first call?

Resource Roundup:
Presbyterian Week of Action with Rev. Shanea Leonard, Associate for Gender, Race, and Intercultural Justice for the PC(USA)

Speaker 1:

Hello, and welcome to a matter of faith, a Frisbee podcast, the podcast, where we respond to your questions and comments on issues of faith, social justice, and church life. Don't be afraid to write in and ask your question because if it matters to you, it matters to us. And it just might be a matter of faith,

Speaker 2:

Whether it be faith in God, faith in others, or faith in yourself, we are brought to you by the Presbyterian peacemaking program and Unbound, the interactive journal on Christian social justice for the Presbyterian church USA. I am your host Lee Cato ,

Speaker 1:

And I'm your host Simon dune

Speaker 2:

Without further ado, let's dive into today's questions.

Speaker 3:

Well, Hey, y'all uh , welcome to the podcast this week. Welcome to a matter of fate , a Presby podcast . It's a really bizarre week, I would say in many different ways, but it's also been a good week, I think, here in DC, just because we're getting to know the city and all those kinds of things. And if you're , this is your first time listening, our recently moved to DC . And so we're just getting to know the city, but Simon, how are you? How's your week been? What's new,

Speaker 4:

You know, I'm doing okay. Lee . I have , uh, been working on a lot of prep for projects that are, that will be coming out in the fall, starting in September. We'll look forward to giving some of those, some of those projects and programs, a shout out for our resource segment probably later this month, but just a lot of prep for the fall right now. And as usual, the heat wave has come back to New York. So that's fun. But yeah, the heat waves here too. Yep . We just do what we can to stay cool.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. That's becoming the thing staying cool, which is hard to do both mentally, physically, all those kinds of things. But yeah, I agree. The fall prep has begun advent. Y'all it's already almost the middle of August, which is hard to believe an advent starts in November this year. So advent prep and at some point we'll plug unbounds advent series and all that kind of thing, but, but I'm glad you're having a I okay. Week.

Speaker 4:

Not too bad. Just keep rolling. It's all we can do. Well, speaking of staying cool and , and maintaining composure , uh, our first question today is kind of related to that. Our first question reads the CDC has recently recommended that people resume wearing masks indoors. Again, even if you are vaccinated, how do we help folks process this change further as COVID cases, surge, it can be easy to blame the unvaccinated as people of faith. How do we help people avoid blame, but still push for change? Well, that's a pretty pretty in depth and nuance question. What do you think Lee ? How do we help folks process the change and also avoid blame?

Speaker 3:

I feel like I need to listen to my own advice. I'm going to go ahead and preface that what I'm about to say. I need to actually listen to back myself because I will be out of a lot of frustration. So I kind of, I'm feeling this question today because out of a lot of frustration and a lot of just like disappointment that people aren't getting vaccinated and it's been here and now we're seeing the surge. So this has been very hard for me to navigate and think about because I , I, I have defaulted into being very frustrated and disappointed. Uh, and I think those are valid feelings. I'm not saying we should discount those at all. But I do think in , I think, well , one thing that has helped me and kind of processing, so I have a background in science and for me, when it comes to science, when it comes to the study of viruses and public health things change, and we learn more, there's never been a virus like this before scientists are learning about it as it is infecting people. And I think that in many ways we, we think of science as kind of a yes or no type thing instead of it being processes. And for me, the CDC is responding out of the way in which nature and science just works and things change, things happen with a virus. The more it mutates, the more it replicates, the more it mutates that is just the history of that is just how viruses are. And I think about it as, I mean, when you're making things, I always go back to like, let's, let's take a biblical, I'm going to take a biblical. Is that all right, Simon? Yeah, let's do it. So when the Bible was being formed, people, it was scribes writing them. So this were handwritten by scribes over and over and over again. So many scripts and , and it wasn't just a biblical passages. It was everything. And within the more they copied them, you could see. And the, and the following , uh , new scripts that they copied as time went on, as more work was done, you could see mistakes, you could see that they missed a word or skipped a line , or there was some change in eats manuscripts . So what happens with humans just as it happens with viruses, the more it replicates in a rapid way and in a very speedy way, more it mutates. And so that changes the process of, of how this works. It changes how it interacts with the vaccine. It changes, you know, it, it becomes a different form of what it is. And so, as we're thinking about, you know, it is very frustrating to do one thing and being told to do another thing and then going back. But I , I think that's just how science has always been in many ways, with things we don't even really know about with surgeries or medications or all this kinds of stuff, things don't work and you go back and reevaluate and you'd go back and work it out and see what happens. And so I think that might be helpful for people , um , to understand science in that way and that the CDC is not doing this just to make us mad or because they got something wrong. Now they may have got some things wrong in the past, but I think it's more of, they're learning new things about this virus. And so that's helped me personally, when it comes to changing and process and how we keep people safe. So I'll start with that. And then I might elaborate on the next part of this question, as I'm thinking, how to articulate it.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. The first part of the question about helping folks process this change is so interesting because I know for me personally, when that recommendation came out, I was like, oh my gosh, we're regressing. We're sliding back after finally having this breath of fresh air, you know, I can, I can go into a place and not have to wear a mask and now I have to do it again. And I think the first step is just to help folks acknowledge that that feeling is so real and it's okay to feel that way. And that there is a sense of like, oh my gosh, we are losing what progress we had. I don't want to go back, but there's, but the, the issue with the, I don't want to go back attitude is that it's natural to feel that sense of frustration. But if we don't follow recommendations, not only will we have to go back, we will have to go back even worse. And so if it is a choice between having to wear a mask again, indoors , or having to wear a mask all the time, because this thing keeps mutating, this virus keeps mutating and changing and we never, ever can get ahead of it. I'd rather take the slight regression backwards now and trade that, you know, and, and do that instead of a much but far bigger, worse consequences later. And I think also we need to remember that we can do this for people who have been wearing masks regularly. We already did it. So we know that we can. And I think that there is some confidence and affirmation and knowing that we can do that. I mean, frankly, we must do it to protect ourselves and others, as you were saying, Lee . So I think that we just need to remember that it is within our power and within our ability to, to be able to do this. Um, I appreciate that you mentioned both science and scripture earlier cause you, you reminded me of something and I hope this doesn't sound too preachy to folks. Um, but if you think about the, is Simon, all right, well, if you think about the Israelites, they were delivered out of the land of Egypt and hardship and oppression, and they had a clear place to go in order to, to go where God was calling them and they didn't do it because they weren't convinced that they could, that they could beat the defeat, the inhabitants of the promised land. Right. And the result was that they had to wander 40 years in the desert. And in some ways that's kind of like us , uh , people in society right now. It's like, oh, we don't want to w we were delicious delivered from some of us feel like we were just delivered from one hardship. We can't go back. But the fact of the matter is that we already know what it takes to get there. We just have to be willing to do it. And so if we don't, we will wander for 40 years in the desert. And I don't want to really know what that looks like in terms of the death toll and the harm to people's health, both physical and mental. So just want to put it out, put that out there for folks to , to consider as well.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And people died in the wilderness and yeah, I think it's also, and this gets to the part of the question about like the blame thing. I do think there is a balance of understanding, you know, the history of science in this country that has been, and medicine it's been very , um, detrimental and deadly to , in some ways to people of color. And there has been a history of medical , um, hesitancy within , um, the black community and the black and brown communities, which is right for Liso . And so I do think that there is having to understand that history alongside , um , this political jargon and, and frankly, misinformation that is being spouted to where people are believing it and whether or not, I think that's ridiculous is meaningless because it , people are believing it and people are in risk and result of that not being vaccinated , um, because they are being told , uh , misinformation by people who are in power, which I think is very unfortunate and also very deadly to also have that understanding. Um, I don't think blame is the right word, but I do think accountability is a word that we should all be using because accountability means that, you know, we all are being affected by this. The one thing about, and the us that has , uh , has a problem because it's so individualistic and it's culture, and we don't talk enough about a communal way of doing it's called public health for a reason because it's public and it's with people. And I do think that I do think we should hold people accountable. And I do think we should be pointing out that this is not true. This is not scientifically based. This is not any sort of scientifically accurate. And I think we have to be up front about that. And we have to keep saying that because it is life and death, but I do think that there are not so good ways. And I am very, very guilty of this, of how to approach that. And in some ways that works. But I th I do think it's sad that right now we're seeing so many people get the vaccine, but it's taken people dying again as taken their family members dying and saying, oh my God, what was I thinking? Why did I do that? I mean, there are stories about people, you know, about to die from COVID, who are begging doctors to give them the vaccine. And, and they're just like, that's not how this works. It's not like that. And so I think we just need to have a, a larger nuance to add the , uh, and, and, and be very informed about many things when we're approaching these conversations. I agree. You're not going to convince somebody to take a vaccine by just guilt, shaming them, or guilting them. Many people will just stand firm in their beliefs. And sadly it takes kind of a , a personal experience to change someone instead of the trajectory . But the mentality of this is a communal thing, and we are all our actions literally affect millions of people. Our individual actions affect millions of people. And when it comes to a virus, it doesn't care what political party, you're a part of. It doesn't care what your emotional state is, who you're related to, what your Jeanette like a virus is a virus. It is biological. It is doing what it was made to do, and that is to replicate. And that should also be the basis of this. It is made to replicate. And it does that by basically taking over your body. So I think with all those things in perspective, that's where the conversation needs to lie is what the facts and keep repeating that like a virus is not a virus doesn't care viruses doing what it was. It is what it was evolutionarily made to do

Speaker 4:

When the fact of the matter is that as people of faith, we do care. We care about each other. We care about each other's health and safety. I know a fellow, a church goer who attends the church, the same church that I do want to get vaccinated, even though that person has been eligible for, for months to be able to receive the vaccine. And it took months and months of a little prodding here and there, particularly I think from other church members, not, not interrogation, not, not interrogations, not confrontations, but just, Hey, have you gotten your, your vaccine yet or, oh yeah. I, so I, I got mine and, and, oh , assignment. Have you gotten yours? Oh yeah, I've got in mind . Oh, see , what was your experience like, you know, little things of encouragement to help get someone who is maybe hesitant or skeptical onto , uh, just to thinking about the whole idea of getting a vaccine a little bit differently. And that was an example of , of church community sort of in small ways, rallying around someone to hopefully help them make a , make a choice for themselves. And I know multiple people, even straight up said, we will go with you to get your vaccine, and we will walk back with you. We will make sure you are okay. We will, you know, that we will do whatever we need to do. And so that person now has their first dose of vaccine and , um , was proudly and excitedly talking about it in church relatively recently . So just goes to show

Speaker 3:

You, it is like fearful for, I mean, I , I do realize that for it to happen so fast, but that is also like that , and that is the how this science works too. And so I do think having all those things going on at the same time is, is so important, especially the misinformation. Y'all , that's the one thing I won't like. I think it's like the scientist in me too, that like some of these things that are being said have to always just constantly be like, put down with like sensors being put in a shot, or like this is going to eventually call something else, like a lot of anti-vax or kinds of things. Yeah. I just think there is like other , just finding a balance and I will have to listen back to this to remind myself of all that, but I'm glad what you said, assignment that it's, I mean, our , all of our feelings are valid and that, that frustration is valid. And my frustration with other people, I know a lot of people who have that too, and that is valid, that disappointment is valid. So yeah, that's hard to kind of wrap up, you know,

Speaker 4:

Indeed people.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's all I got for that. I'm scared if I keep talking, I'm going to start doing the blame thing and then I'm going to have to re-listen to this. So I think we should just move on about something that is church related , but kind of different than this. Uh , very important. The other question we got in for this week is it says, I've been wondering about the significance and meaning of church membership for our denomination. We've kind of touched on that a little bit before, but not this pointed. People keep talking about declining membership in our congregations. Maybe it's our definition and understanding of membership that needs to change. What do you think?

Speaker 4:

Well, I think if there's anything, the COVID 19 pandemic has shown us it's that people attend church in varieties of ways and various places around the country and around the world, and that you don't need to physically be together to be connected or feel connected to a church or to a congregation. And I think it's just making it very obvious that there are folks who do and want to feel that sense of connection, but maybe do not always want to attend a single congregation every Sunday, or don't even live in physical proximity to that congregation, but want to be involved. And so they will choose to attend in the ways that they can, whether that be virtual online, volunteering for various things, maybe it's coming for youth group, but maybe not showing up on Sundays for the sermon per se. You know, there's just so many different ways that people can be involved in a church in a way that doesn't fit the classic membership model and definition. And so I kind of agree with what this question is suggesting that our definition and understanding of membership probably does need to change and become more flexible. I know plenty of people who only attend my congregation virtually now, they don't live in New York. They don't live anywhere near here, but they tune in every Sunday because they enjoy it. And they do feel a sense of connection to this community. Even though they've really not met anyone here in person they've only ever watched online since the pandemic began. And so think we just need to think about what does it mean to be a member. And especially if we're going to base church finances around membership, we really need to, to think about that carefully because there are consequences for other, other serious matters related to the health of the church and the congregation.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I, for some reason the idea of like a gym membership comes to mind, like, that's what we always hear . Like I just joined the gym, I'm a member of the gym. And what I, what I think about that is, is that, you know, it's a space where you get what you need to get, and then you go, you know, like you get a workout in and there might be some amenities. And I think some people meet people at the gym, but it's, but though, but most of the ones I've been to, it's like, you do what you need to do. And you kind of like, maybe say, Hey, and then get out. And so I think in some ways the church has kind of, I don't know that membership idea of a church is a little outdated in the sense that how do we, instead of cause that membership ideas very transactional, one way, you know, I pay something to the gym and I expect these things, but I wonder how it might look like where there's kind of a relationship between, you know, a church and its members. That's not so transactional. Um, that is more of community building. And yeah, I just, I just think this idea of membership is very outdated and it's also like a commitment thing. The reason why I go to the gym is because I pay the expensiveness of that gym and I'm going to get my money's worth. And so it does, it does add a, like a condition, you know, it adds some sort of, yeah, it adds kind of a , an expectation in some way. So I do think that there's also that, and that commitment that when you say, especially the younger generations of, do you want to be a member of something, even if it's this church that comes with a lot of expectations and I'm not sure that the church has done well of reciprocating. Some of that I know, especially to a Laura , a lot of marginalized communities, like the community, we've been members of the church for a long time, but what did we get in many ways from that? So, yeah. I just think it's like a commitment thing. I think it's scary. I got a pledge card when I became a member and I was like, this is, I don't like this for one, I didn't have any money, which a lot of young people don't. And so what does that mean? Yeah. What does that commitment mean? And in many ways it's sometimes feel like it's on the congregant or the member of the church to kind of hold up this like commitment to the church in some ways, which I think can be very interesting for people to think about and what that means,

Speaker 4:

Commitment membership and the, yeah. What is the expectation around what it means to be a member? Because often I think the reason people become members is because they say, oh, you know, we are, we are a part of this church and this community, what does being a member in a formal sense? Uh , what is the difference between that and someone who is just attending and still doing a lot of things and being involved, is that about an expectation for the responsibility or the role that that person is or can hold within the congregation or is it about a , uh , is it a difference about what the congregation and the church is doing for that person? So there , I think that's a good thing for us to be thinking about. And again, this question mentioned declining membership and our congregations part of that has to do with the fact that maybe our definition and understanding of membership is outdated. It's also that older people in a denomination that is generally older are, you know, they're dying. And so that naturally leads to declining membership, especially when there is not as many younger folks to , just to re, to replace them and coming into the church, which is both a , a matter of generational demographics and also a result of people relating to church in different ways. So it's sort of a bit of a, both and kind of phenomenon going on with regards to the declining membership. But yeah, let's do some more thinking about commitment and transaction and membership and what membership means and who it's for.

Speaker 1:

So joining us today, we have a very, very special guest. We have the Reverend Timothy watch ring, pastor of Memorial Presbyterian church of Fox chase Timothy, thanks for being with us today. How are

Speaker 2:

You? Thank you, Simon and Lee . It's great to be here. I'm good.

Speaker 3:

Awesome. Yeah. Thank you so much for joining us. And we have a question for you that was sent and a to respond to. And the question reads, and I hope a lot of people listen to this cause I know a lot of people are going through this right now. The question reads, I am about to start my first call as a pastor to a congregation. My question is for folks who are about a year or so into their first call, looking back on your first year as an ordained pastor, serving a congregation, what guidance or advice would you give to someone who is just about to start their first call? Now that is a lot, and that is allowing your shoulders, but know that this is one person's advice and one person's guidance. So Timothy, we would love to hear your response. Yes, yes, yes. Okay. So actually I have a list of things they're in no particular order. And so I'll, I'll just start. All right. So the first is to absorb anything in everything that you can to show up to everything at least once. So I think that's important just to like, know who shows up to what, where people are showing up at , uh, in just the culture of your church. So I think that's, that's like one of the first big steps that I took. Like, you can start creating boundaries afterwards, like what you're going to show up to after that. But I think when you start a new ministry or you're in a new call to show up to everything once, so , so that's first thing second is to not take things personally, people of course, congregations come with baggage. They're coming with all these ideas about like what the last interim pastor deal with the last , uh , associate pastor did or the last right. Do they have all these ideas of what a pastor looks like? And they're going to continue to feel that way about things. And so if you come in , uh , doing things differently because of who you are, because you're wonderful and right, you've been called to this position, just keep doing you and not to take it personally. Third is to find a pastoral colleague in your area, preferably to vent with. And so I have two great other pastors who are in my area, who I talked to at least twice a month, just about catching up about things, talking about the area. It's kind of like our own little ministerium just for ourselves, cause we're younger pastors, but that's been wonderful. And a little, maybe three, a w w with this one is to also find a therapist. I think that's important to have, I've been going to one every other week and it's been very helpful just to have someone who's not in the same context of ministry to hear your thoughts. Uh, and thankfully our , uh, health insurance helps us with finding therapists and paying for them. So, so that's good. Fourth is to take copious notes. There's this kind of written, but well-known role that you shouldn't shake up things too much in your first year, but that doesn't mean that you can't start making that , that you can't start making observations and plans for what you, what you want to do. So I think that's important in that's what I've been doing for the last year. Things are starting to come around to , to that point where I'm starting to shake up things little by little , uh, and they've been very good. So, so I think that's also just like pull back and then move forward. Also number five on my list , uh, is that there are many resources to make your life easier when it comes to worship services , uh, worship service planning. So the Presbyterian association of musicians will reach out to you in your first year, which is wonderful. And they'll give you a free membership to their organization, Pam, and they'll give you this great resource called call to worship, which maps out all the hymns and some liturgy , uh , for the rest of the w four whatever year . And so that's been just such a wonderful resource as I was just on study, leave last week using that resource to , to plan out the rest of my year. So that's been very important for me. Uh, and then other on the resource side is the book of common worship, been a blessing to me. I didn't go to a Presbyterian seminary and I wonder Presbyterian other Presbyterian seminaries use the book of common worship more than what I did at union yeah . In New York. But I didn't like when, when I went to seminary, we had one class that was for weddings and funerals. It was for a weekend. And so I prepared one funeral service during my three years of seminary. And so when I got into a congregation this year, or this, like my first year, I've had 10 funerals in two weddings, and I've had to use that book of common worship more and more, which I'm finding to be so, so helpful. And especially with words and liturgy and yeah, I've, I don't think I would have be able to make , uh , or like make the funerals as great as they have been without that book also. Okay. Number six, what has been, I've been thinking about this a lot. So what has been repeated over in one , like repeated over and over again in one context may be literally unknown to another one. So like each church has its own Canon of hymns that they love to sing and their own Canon of scripture, basically like you have a Canon within a Canon for each congregation, what each congregation loves like with songs and hymns. And so it's important to what happens in my mind is that I'm like, no, I don't want to play this song. Like, I don't want us to sing this song this Sunday because I know it too well, but also no one else knows it in the congregation. So like recently for , for, for this summer, I introduced the congregation to Lectio Divina, which I've done so many times. Uh , and so when I introduced it to them there, they had virtually no idea what it was. And so that's been very helpful , uh, in that way. So I think that's also a plus number seven is to be patient with finding your pastoral voice, which is something I feel like I'm still figuring out just like getting to know the congregation, getting to know the congregation's needs and wants , but also trying to, trying to speak something into their lives that they need to hear. And I think that will take a while . And so don't put too much pressure on yourself. Um, if you don't feel like you've found it right away and just a few other last ones. Okay. So do not give up on the things that you do not give up on the things that give you life. So like I love basically after every service on Sundays, I watch a horror film because that's what gives me life. And I need that kind of separation between like church life and what I feel like is Timothy life. Uh, and so that's, that's how I make this separation. And that also means to carve out time to be alone. Um, this job can suck up all of your time. And most of the things that you'll end up doing will go unnoticed. And so don't keep putting pressure on yourself , uh , for things like that. You have your own list of things that you want to get done. It's okay if they don't get done. And then if they wait another week, because that's like, no, one's , you don't need to put that kind of pressure on yourself. Find a clergy tax person. It's something that I've needed. Uh, and I'm glad that I had friends who told me about one , uh , uh , clergy tax service that has been , uh life-giving to me. And so, so wonderful. So make sure you've you find one of them to use up all of your time, your vacation time and study, leave time. That's also important to do it's in your contract. You should use it. Uh, and also it makes you a healthier and happier person when, when you do these kinds of things. And then last is to expect the random, like ministry is , uh , the most random job that I've ever had in my life. Like one week I'm calling you, right? I'm like helping someone find a job because they don't know how to use the internet another week, I'm helping a person adjust her Walker because her family won't help her another week. You know, it's like, I've become the video editor of, of like the worship services. And I'm also like getting phone calls about , um , adult diapers. So it's, it's, it's random, but it's beautiful and it's wonderful and it's hard, but you got to give yourself some right of , to give yourself some grace. I love the CA I love the, the, the countdown, not the countdown, but I love like step here's a list by a number that's very helpful. And I just learned something. I mean, I don't have a like church, but like, I'm kind of new Lee ordained. And we were talking before this Timothy and I got ordained the exact same day. And we're part of that , uh , virtual ordination group of that did it all online. So , um, that's, I think that's just so helpful for people, because I do think people give some guidance or some advice, but it's always kind of in a roundabout way. And that was just very straightforward, which I am very appreciative of. And also the part about, you know, the randomness and kind of how that randomness is very, also very life sucking because you have to kind of, your brain has to switch so many times and like that can be physically taxing. And , um, so I just think that's very helpful because I know a lot of people are asking out there, but, but ministry is random even in a national offices right now .

Speaker 4:

Wouldn't you agree, Simon, it's very random. Yes. Ministry can be very random and , uh , you kind of have to roll with the punches. And sometimes you just have to say no, as well, as we've talked about before on the podcast and Timothy, I'd like to ask one , one up question, because one of the things I've always wondered about being , uh , a minister, being a pastor of a congregation is you're always trying to be in relationship with your members and your visitors, right. But there's also a, there's a sort of a line that you have to take where you are their pastor and you are not, and you might want to be their friend, but you can't always be their friend and their pastor at the same time in terms of doing maybe what's best for that person. And sometimes you just have to make a judgment call and coming out of seminary. Everyone has different levels of experience with working in that context and trying to navigate that balance. So for you in your first call in your first year of ministry , uh , what advice do you have for anyone who's about to start their first job as a pastor and trying to navigate that balance between being, being, friends and seeking relationships with congregants, but also taking seriously the responsibility of being a pastor?

Speaker 3:

I , I feel like I'm in such a different time because I started during COVID, so it's not like I could, I could only make virtual relationships with people. And so no one could really be my friend in the first place, like whether I'm like seeing them on zoom or, or having phone calls with them. Um, so I feel like I don't have a good answer for you. Um, because it, because also I would say, I mean, okay, I'm a solo pastor at a church that has under 80 members. I have 40 people show up on a Sunday. Mostly all of them are in their sixties and seventies in the eighties. And so, yeah, of course I want to be their friends, but, but they don't want to be my friend because I'm in my thirties. And so I see them, I think the challenge for me has been, how can I get you not to see me as your grandson? And how can I show you that I have some like authority , um, because I've, you know, I've done these studies, I feel called by God to continue to , to be in ministry. And I want to be on this path with you, but I don't, I don't want you to see me as like we're at Disneyland or something, and I'm , you're just walking me around. Uh, and so that's, that's the challenge I've had, but, but I can see what you're saying. And I feel like every church and every Alma , almost like every neighborhood is different when it comes to church life. And so like at my church, everyone calls me, pastor Timothy, no matter what. And , and so that's different than what I would say, like being in New York where you just call the pastor by their first name. And, and so I think that's like where the dynamics sort of come into, like seeing, like calling someone by their , um, yes , by their title. And so I think that changes some things as well. And maybe probably in the south, I assume the same , say more of the pastor, the Reverend yeah. Yeah. It can be. Yeah. And it totally depends on the demographic of the church. And I think for me it , and , and the little congregational experiences that I have had is that it, if there are people in the congregation that are kind of the same age, I had this experience when I was a YAB , I was 23 years old and I worked in campus ministry for my placement. So I was not that much older than the , the students there. And so that was a huge learning experience for me being someone who's kind of, I was the assistant to the campus minister. And so I had this pastoral role. I also was very close to their ages and still trying to come into my own self and all this kind of stuff. And so, so yeah, I think it is very contextual as to where you are in the last episode that we had in the context of a person of color coming into a predominantly white congregation. And that's a completely different context as well, and so many things to navigate. But I think some of the things that you listed kind of like spans a lot of contexts just in our personal development as, as ministers or church leaders. So I really appreciate that, but, but yeah, I do think it has a to do with, yeah, just the conflict, like in the style, they, they want to make sure people know you're a minister or , um, and in some ways you can kind of, you know, it's, they approach you differently. And I don't know how that is everywhere else, but I do think it's, it's a weird Democrat dynamic to navigate depending on where you are, but one of your things did talk about, get to know your, your context and where you're at. And I think that's fair that that's going to be very, very helpful for people.

Speaker 4:

And I appreciate Timothy, just that you mentioned the importance of taking care of yourself during that first year. Cause it's so easy to just give your all, but that doesn't mean the job will necessarily give it all back to you. And , um , I just think that that's great for anyone in any profession, but particularly in ministry where you're dealing with some of the highs of the highs of the community and the lowest of the lows . So thanks for reminding everyone about that. Cause that's, that's so important. Can

Speaker 3:

I ask one more follow-up are we too long? Well, I was gonna , I'm kind of going off of what Simon was saying. Like you're not necessarily gonna get what you give back and I think that's hard for people to kind of accept. And so I wonder if you had any more guidance of like, how to really kind of accept that, that the energy that you're giving, like it's not always, yeah . It's not always going to be returned or you may not see the reward or the outcome of any of your effort, any guidance in that. Yes. I would say that's I have other friend groups that you can depend on and not try to like put all of your worth into your job later . Like pastors will talk about, so, so I've like during this pandemic, because not a lot of people around and I'm the kind of person who's very hands on and am very custodial basically. So, so I've done so much cleaning around the church , uh, and sort of like putting things away and sorting things again. And we started meeting in our Christian education building and the room looks like, okay, am I, I mean spectacular because I did it , uh , and I didn't get one word. Right? There's like I had one or like one person said one thing. And I was like, I was like, I've seen pictures of what, like what it looked like when you did worship hero four . And it was just so cluttered and now it feels more like the space is more worshipful because you're not cluttered with yard sale stuff basically. And so I think that's, I think that would be to not put all of your eggs in one basket when it comes to ministry and to make sure that you're sort of like a full person outside of the church, or like, yeah, sorry, not enough full person, but a whole person outside of the church and inside the church. And so just to make sure that you're getting full of love and energy outside your congregation, as well as hopefully insight .

Speaker 4:

Well, thanks so much Timothy for being with us today. We're really, really appreciative to have you on. We wish you the best as you are in now. You're beginning your second year, Ken , your first call. And we hope that anyone out there who is about to start their first call or is starting their first call, that you , uh, take some of the advice and guidance that Timothy shared with us today.

Speaker 3:

Thank you so much. You helped me a little bit. Thank you for the invite. This has been wonderful. So this week on our resource Roundup segment, we are welcoming another special guest to the show. The Reverend Shania Leonard, who is the associate for gender race and intercultural justice for the Presbyterian church USA, to talk about the Presbyterian week of action. And so welcome Shania and yeah. Tell us a little about,

Speaker 5:

Well thank you for having me Lee. I'm so excited to be here. Glad to be here again. I have the honor and a privilege to be the project manager or coordinator for the week of action. Again, this year, our week of action is coming up very shortly here, August the 23rd through the 29th. Our theme this year is shaped of oppression, resistance and liberation. The whole idea behind the week of action this year is predicated on the scripture of Micah six, eight oh Mora . What does the Lord require of you to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly before your God? And so , um , with that in mind as our backdrop, we have expanded the week of action beyond what it was last year to include other populations of marginalized folks, so that we can bring light to systems of oppressions, acts of resistance and places of liberation throughout our denomination and beyond. And so the week of action, Ms . Share focuses on, on Monday, our middle Eastern siblings on Tuesday are Latin X, Hispanic siblings on Wednesday are LGBTQ plus siblings on Thursday. Our indigenous siblings on Friday are , um , Asian American , Pacific Islander and Asian siblings on Saturday are black siblings. And then on Sunday we will be focusing on gun violence and mass shootings and how there will also be an element that focused on the intersectionality of poverty and race throughout the week as well. And so it's a pretty jam packed for what to expect, and I'm super excited about it this year.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And , and I have the honor of being on that team with Shania and it's been wonderful planning. It's been, yeah, it's a jam packed week. So I hope everyone checks it out. And you'll find all of this on the website that is dedicated to the week of action that speaks to usa.org/week of action. You can go there, the Fonda schedule, and then you will also find the live streams and a special shout out that things will be translated into Spanish and Korean and some other languages during the week. And so accessibility is key. And so we're, we're hoping you check that out and the link will also be in on our show notes to take you right there, but Shania, thank you for all the work that you're doing. And thank you for being on the podcast with us today.

Speaker 5:

Oh, thank you. I'm super excited to do this work. It is a lot of work. Let me not sugar coat that, but I am honored and blessed to do that work with folks who work at the national offices, as well as people from around the denomination and around the country and lists literally this year around the world. And so it's exciting to be in community with folks, but it's also important work to bring attention to those places of , of hurt and oppression and bigotry that many of our siblings still face. And so in light of one of the folk eye of Matthew 25, as we're becoming a Matthew 25 church, more and more one of the folk, I is dismantling racism and white supremacy. And each one of these places of oppression that we will lift up, have a connected route and white supremacy culture, our bigotry in some way. And so we want to bring light to that and expose it for what it is and the sin that it is so that we can continue to become the beloved community that Christ is calling us to.

Speaker 3:

Well, I hope everyone checks out the week of action, the press train week of action. Again, you'll find the link on our show notes and go to pcusa.org/week of action. And so we hope you take advantage again. The dates are August the 23rd through the 29th. So check it out and again, thank you Shania for being,

Speaker 5:

Can I say one more thing that I would encourage all folks to check out different activities. There is such a variety this year of what will be highlighted, showcased and brought to your attention this year, but you really don't want to miss any day because each day is uniquely different, not just because of the focus of a particular group, but because of the types of programming that are involved. So I would encourage you to check it out every day and to look at the schedule because people have worked really hard on this and it's going to be really good.

Speaker 1:

This has been the matter of faith podcast brought to you by the Presbyterian peacemaking program and Unbound. If you would like to submit a question for discussion, you can do [email protected] , we look forward to hearing from you, see you next time, see you next time. Y'all

Speaker 3:

Thanks everyone for listening to episode 25 of a matter of fate oppress be podcast, don't forget to subscribe, ease in your favorite podcast platform.

Speaker 4:

And Simon says, please give us a five-star review because it helps us bring more content like this episode to you.

Speaker 3:

And Lee says, if you have a question, please send them to fate [email protected] We would love to hear questions from you. So we look forward to hearing from you.