A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast

Episode 26: Loneliness, Life Transitions & What's Urban Ministry?

August 26, 2021 Simon Doong and Lee Catoe Season 1 Episode 26
A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast
Episode 26: Loneliness, Life Transitions & What's Urban Ministry?
Show Notes Transcript

Questions for the Week:

  • A recent Washington Post article describes how teens around the world are lonelier than a decade ago and the reason may be smartphones. What are your thoughts on this? Regardless of whether smartphones are part of the problem or not, how do we provide spaces that help people not feel lonely?
  • Let's talk about life transitions. What are some transitions that you have experienced in your life and what helped you through them?

Special Guest:
Rev. Dr. Wanda M. Lundy, Assistant Professor of World Christianity, Director of Mentoring for Thriving in Ministry in the City (MTMC) and Director of the Eleanor Moody-Shepherd Resource Center for Women of Faith at New York Theological Seminary, & Pastor at Siloam-Hope First Presbyterian Church

Guest Question:
What are the unique challenges of urban/city ministry compared to suburban/rural ministry? What are the unique opportunities/blessings of urban ministry?

Resource Roundup:
Mentoring for Thriving in the City (MTMC) at New York Theological Seminary

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 everyone. Welcome to episode 26 of a matter of faith, the Presby podcast, Lee , how are you doing today?

Speaker 2:

Doing good Simon. It's a rainy day, but sometimes I like rainy days. Um, yeah, doing well, settling into DC and yeah, gearing up for the week of action, which is happening when this podcast comes out, it will be happening right in the middle of it. So yeah, we are , uh, just to remind everybody out there about the press June week of action, we're doing it right now and it's wonderful. You can find all the info on pcusa.org/a week of action, but yeah, just gearing up for all that. How are you doing?

Speaker 3:

I am doing okay. I , uh, I was gone over the weekend, which was nice to take a little, a little change of pace for a little bit. Um, and of course it seems I came back and the hot weather followed me and humidity and I'm just kind of tired of it, but it is what it is. I know everyone gets tired of , of hot and humid weather, but it just seems to linger.

Speaker 2:

Cause you were in my neck of the woods. Where are you?

Speaker 3:

Yes. Yeah. Yeah. I went down south for , uh , yeah, for, for, for an event and it's , uh , it was a good time and I don't know if people out there are aware that in South Carolina, barbecue is yellow because it has mustard in it and it tastes quite good. I, you know, I didn't have an issue with it. I thought it was great, but I know that some people get very territorial about the proper way to do barbecue. So yeah.

Speaker 2:

South Carolina always gets, the always gets kind of like that. Look about what, what is this? Yeah. So yeah, South Carolina, barbecue sauce is mustard base. And then, you know, North Carolina does their thing and then Alabama has like white sauce for their barbecue a lot of the time. So that's a whole nother ball game and yeah, barbecue is, it's a little in South Carolina. It's a little sweet and tangy. Yeah. Which I really like a lot, but I'm glad you had a glad you had a good time in the Carolinas.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I did. And to each their own on, on their barbecue preference, but it wasn't , it was a nice change. I liked, I liked the extra flavor added by the mustard. Gives a little something. Yeah. And speaking of a little something, how about we give everyone a little something to think about with our first question? So our first question right written in today reads a recent Washington post article describes how teens around the world are lonelier than a decade ago. And the reason may be smartphones. What are your thoughts on this? Regardless of whether smartphones are part of the problem or not, how do we provide spaces that help people not feel lonely? What do you think Lee , how do we help people not feel lonely and our smartphones to blame?

Speaker 2:

Well, I, I think it is kind of, yes and no, depending on obviously depending on like who the person is. I do think that smartphones and social media and all the things that you get on a smartphone, I do think they, in some ways can be very isolating, can create spaces that are very isolating, but also think they create spaces that are in many ways, not realistic, which can also create wasn't a lot of people's minds and , and , and kind of put their mindset in a comparative space like, oh my gosh, these people's lives are wonderful. This is what I see on Instagram or like Tik TOK or whatever. And I wish my life was the same. And I think some people get very depressed over that in many ways. And like I say , depressed, like it , I think it really is kind of a mental health issue when we're talking about that. But I also think that because the openness, like everything that a smart phone can offer us, it does get, because we can get sucked into them. It does in some ways, not aid in creating in person connection. But I think during this pandemic, they've also aided in helping create that. So I just think it is kind of very contextual, but I do get that in many ways, teens, yeah. Can and can kind of create an isolating environment within that. But I , but I also with the pandemic and things like that, I think a lot of other things aid in that, and also being a teen is hard. It's hard to make friends. It's hard to make friends as an adult. I was just talking about this stuff today , just moved. And it's like, it's hard to make friends when you're an adult or any time you're kind of transitioning teens go to different schools. Maybe they might start high school and that's very different. They also are beginning to learn about themselves and are figuring things out when it comes to a variety of different things. And so I just think it's just a time of, you know, it can very easily kind of fall into this isolation. And I think that's where we all have to be intentional about it. Like we all have to just keep asking kids questions. We have to keep checking in with kids. It'd be how they are , um, encourage, you know, how to process things. Encourage , I don't know. I know a lot of kids now go to therapy that is concentrated with that, that their therapists are very experienced with kids or teenagers. And I think that's very important. I think mental health right now for our, for kids and youth and teens should be first and foremost a priority because they're , they're dealing with a lot of things that you and I didn't have to deal with or didn't even know about. Uh, so, so I think it's a lot of things.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I, I agree. I think there may be some truth to what's described in this article, which by the way, is linked in the, in the show notes. Um , I'm just gonna read a quick quote from the article. Uh , it says as smartphone adoption spread and the 2000 tens adolescents spent less time interacting in person and more time using digital media, given that digital media does not produce as much emotional closeness as in-person interaction, the results may be more loneliness in recent years. And so, yeah, I agree with you. I think there may be some truth to that about the use of media and the use of smartphones. It's also sort of a statement or a commentary about how we promote and encourage social interaction and community building and why and how that matters. Because as you said, the phone is a tool. It can be a distraction, but it also can be used as a means of connection. I think that we need to be thinking as members of society as families and as communities, are we encouraging in-person connection and interaction in the first place, or are we literally leaving people to their devices for lack of a better word? I can't tell you the number of times, I've gone into a restaurant and seeing a family sitting at a table and every single member is sitting there on their phone, not talking to each other, the parents and the kids, or sometimes the parents might not. And the kids are because it's just like an easy way to keep the kid quiet. And so I think that there's a question there around how we are encouraging certain behaviors or setting standards of behavior that we may not realize we're actually setting. I think it's also true that people can use their phones and not be lonely. And it's also true that people can also not use their phones and still be lonely. And so I think to , to trace it all back to phones may be misleading a little bit though. It, it can definitely be sort of a factor in a larger picture. In a, in a previous podcast episode, we had talked about how using social media can create this sort of inevitable feeling of being envious of someone else's life or of always feeling left out because, oh, I want to do what they're doing, or I wasn't there. I wasn't invited which contributes to that, that feeling of not being included. Um, but if, if we are conscious about promoting community and experiences with that, and the reason that's important is because we feel a sense of connection. And it also means that we're not spending as much time thinking about why we don't have that connection or that community. And so it's kind of like the, the, the issue can go away by simply being better about being in community and being connected to other folks. But again, that comes down to the values of families and communities to try to do that. Um, but I also recognize it's a bit more complicated if we think back to another previous episode where we had , um, eczema any on, she was talking about using smartphones in youth groups. And I think she was correct to say, it's not really about the phone. Like if you say, oh, take away the phones from the youth and the youth group. That's not really a great idea because they do need it. They do need a phone. And is the issue really about the phone or is about the interactions amongst people within that group? And so just some further thoughts for people to think about it may not always be the phone. It may just be the ways that we're encouraging people to behave or just what their default mode of operation is, in which case we can change that. But that's up to us.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. The phone doesn't, the phone is always the one that's blamed or it's always the thing that's blamed until we won't like , um, personified the phone. But, but yeah, I also think that in many ways, and in some communities and some places where there's not, you know, not a lot of resources and somebody may have a smartphone and the internet, and I know like where I'm from, like, and , and figuring out like coming out and things like that. I know, like that would be a way of escape for me to find a community that , uh , that hopefully is very healthy and that's come a long way to find online communities for like folk and very remote places, or, or to find a sense of in a virtual community. I think those are very valid. And I think that is something that we, as a community have to start talking about more is that as generations, younger generations, and during this pandemic, it is possible to build community over something that is digital. And I don't , and , and not discounting that whatsoever because I think that's life giving for people, people are in not healthy spaces in their homes. So yeah, just throwing that out there to that. And I like what you said, Simon, like, just because you're always on your phone does not mean you're lonely. And I know a lot of lonely people who never used our phones, but I also have noticed that older generations are now becoming addicted to their phones as well. And I think we're seeing that more and more , uh, we were out the other night at a restaurant sitting on the patio and these two people had to be in their seventies or just on their phones, you know, just hanging out with each other, just sitting and looking at their phones. So I think it goes, and yeah, I think it's also something that shouldn't be so, so age centric, I just think it kind of spans age now since smartphones are so integrated in what we do, but yeah, don't always blame the phone. Y'all, it's not always the phone, not always the phone. Uh, so yeah, let's not blame the phone. And I mentioned earlier, and I've mentioned a couple of times that my partner and I have moved to DC, so it's a big transition in our lives and we all have something where we're experiencing transition in some way. And so our next question that we got is talking about transitions and it even says, let's talk about life transitions. Uh, the question reads, what are some transitions that have, that you have experienced in your life and what helped you through them? So Simon, what are some of your transition stories?

Speaker 3:

Well, you know, it's kind of interesting. I always think I'm a, I'm a young person, right? I haven't experienced that many transitions, but actually if I start counting, there's a decent number of transitions that, that I have experienced. And I think the first thing for people to think about in terms of transitions is to just to recognize that there are transitions that we choose, and there are transitions that we don't choose and are sort of just forced upon us by life or circumstances or events. And that can, that can affect the ways that we experience and the ways that we feel about these, about the transition itself. There are probably some themes across all transitions. I know for myself, I've had a lot of transitions related to place. So moving to college, moving out of college, moving to a new city, moving to another country, moving to the U S those are all related to physical geographical locations. And then we also have the transitions of things like jobs and occupation, where , which may also be paired with a geographical location transition, or it may just be, you're staying in the same place, but you are changing your job. And that's a type of transition. And I think the, the other side of, of transition that I can think of is a transition of mindset or perspective. And what I mean by that is you go and do something and it changes your worldview. It changes the way you understand experiences and events, and it can take a while to settle into that new understanding. And that's something that's really hard to sometimes articulate, but if you've ever experienced it, you'll know what I'm talking about there. And I think for all of these transitions, particularly related to job occupation and geographical location, it's really important to accept that transition is hard and it's weird, and it's kind of funky if you really enjoyed the previous place or the position that you were in, you'll inevitably feel some sense of loss or nostalgia for that previous place or position, or you might feel like something's missing. And then in your new endeavor , uh , you might feel a bit lost, even if it's something that you were excited about and you chose to go do so, just recognize that that's a sort of a weird and sometimes a hard place to be in. And , uh , I think finally just have people around you who you can talk to about what you're going through. Don't be afraid to write down your thoughts about how you feel, because sometimes you just need to let yourself feel those things. And that's part of the transition. And then once you're in that new place and in that new position or in that new community, get to know others, build some community for yourself, make some connections. Cause that really helps you start to feel more grounded or settled in a new physical place or in a new job or something like that. So that's just a couple ideas about transitions in life experiences. How about you Lee ? What are some transitions that you've experienced?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Or we're going through one right now , um , moving to a place where now I lived in Nashville for 10 years and that's a long time, a decade in one place. And I've only spent, I spent 18 years in my hometown so that a lot of people move in their life. And I am one of those people that, you know, I didn't move a lot until I went to college. I didn't move at all. And, and so moving and being in a place, being in a place for a long time has kind of been a pattern for me. So a change in moving is, has been hard, but it's also exciting. There's so many feelings that happen within certain kinds of transitions that there's excitement, but there's also fear. And there's also hesitancy and there's the physical newness of it. The tiring, like, like being exhausted both mentally and physically. So that's probably the one that's yeah, that we're in the midst of right now, we moved and we've been here for about three weeks and, and I know that things will come up. Like we really haven't mourned our , you know, our leaving because moving just takes so much time. And so things will bubble up. And I think that's also something we have to be aware of that moving transition is like moving from one state to the next, like one condition to the next. And there is a moment of grief and there's a moment of mourning something, not only for you, but also for the people around you and to give space for that and to kind of live into that and know that that's been very helpful for me. One of my, like my supervisor at work wa was like, I want you to be very intentional about living into that kind of transitional space to kind of feel it and, and really get, you know, get the fullness of what that is. So that was very important for me. And I think that's important for a lot of people specifically, I think like for the community and a lot of our trans siblings, but, and also non-binary siblings or, you know, people coming out that was a big thing, the transition for me and losing friends and gaining friends. And it's a time that is very life-giving because you have to do that, but it's also, it's just a culmination of so many different things. And so I think about that a lot when specifically within moments of transition that to take the time to mourn or grieve something that is maybe no longer a part of you may be no longer a permanent place in your life, but also know that it's okay to move on or to go to the next place or , um , where you feel like the spirit is calling you to be. So that's really helpful for me specifically in the past few weeks is I'm a very gut feeling person. And, and I attest that to the spirit and knowing that I'll listen to the spirit and know that I listened to my own instinct and listen to myself, that's also helpful. It's like, how do , how do , how are we going through life and going through transitions that are continuingly to make us feel authentic within ourselves and where think we should be, and that's not easy, like you said, Simon, but also it's very beautiful within that part. And I'm all about therapy. If there are moments within transition that are bubbling up, certain things like when I was in high school, I lost a hundred pounds and that's a huge transition for somebodies body. For somebody mind , state for somebodies, you know, everything, it changes you when you draw , when you, when you go from looking like a certain thing to another certain thing. And, and a lot of things bubbled up there and you need help in that to deconstruct that with someone that's a professional. So that's another helpful thing is if it's too much know that there's people out there that can help you and , um, to get in contact with

Speaker 3:

Them. Yeah. I think that's great advice to seek help and time from a therapist and that you're not alone because other people are undergoing transitions of various various types. But our prayers are with everyone who is experiencing trans transitions and don't be afraid to ask for help.

Speaker 4:

[inaudible] .

Speaker 1:

So joining us today, we have a very special guest joining us is the Reverend Dr. Wanda , um , Lindy assistant professor of world Christianity, the director of mentoring for thriving in ministry, in the city and

Speaker 3:

Director of the Eleanor moody shepherd resource center for women of faith at New York, theological seminary. She is also a pastor at silo hope first Presbyterian church. And with all of those titles, we are so grateful to have Wanda with us and to fit, fit us into her busy schedule. So Wanda , thanks for being with us. Thank

Speaker 5:

You for having me. I'm so excited to be here today.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Thank you so much. And we got a question in that we would love to hear your response to , from one of our listeners. And so the question reads, what are the unique challenges of urban slash city ministry compared to suburban rural ministry? What are the unique opportunities slash blessings of urban ministry?

Speaker 5:

Wow, that's a really good question for 2021, a major question for all of those who are in ministry and concerned about the world that we live in to think about. When I think about this question, the first thought is the definition of urban, that, that word urban is a word that has been used in different many different contexts. And , um, as I think about urban ministry, as we talk about urban ministry, that's , that is a word in terms of the definition that we have to rethink. Oftentimes when the word urban ministry of the, the concept of urban ministry is discussed, it's discussed thinking about black and brown people. So when you think about urban ministry, you think about urban youth, you think about black and brown youth, but that's not how I think of urban ministry. We think about urban ministry thinking about three different things. One is space. When I think about urban ministry, I think about space. The second thing is time. I think about time and the third is resources. So from those three areas is sort of helps me really structure the work that I do. When I think about space. You think about density of people, density of, of structures. When you're in an urban context, you think about density, the space is dense. There are a lot of people. When you think about an urban urban ministry, you think about time that the pace is much faster. People are moving at a very fast pace. There's a tendency for people to do more in a shorter period of time. People talk fast in an urban setting because there's this idea maybe that is a lot to do so you do it quickly and then resources, because there are more people there's density, sometimes resources are not as prevalent. So the fact that that resources are maybe scarcer , uh , in an urban context, or it seems that way. Those are the three things that I think about space, time and resources. So when you think about doing ministry , uh, the opportunities, one of the great opportunities with this, this three legged stool that I just talked about is diversity. Because when you have a lot of people in a small space, you have a lot of diversity. One of the issues that that exist in urban contexts is immigration issues. So you have a lot of different people who will coming into the city immigrating in internationally, as well as nationally from different places , uh, for more rural places coming into the city for four different reasons. Also the opportunity and blessing is that you have the opportunity to, to travel around the world, actually in an urban context, I'm in New York city. So I can literally travel the world without leaving New York, because it is so diverse because of the density. There's so many people who have come from all over the world, you get to experience all of that diversity. And all of this is reflected in the ministries that exists in each of these diverse communities that exist in an urban context

Speaker 3:

Of what you described about the diversity and being able to travel internationally within , uh , an urban or city context. I grew up in a , in a suburb of Washington, DC and Baltimore, you know, in that sort of area. And the attitude that I sort of had growing up was the city was the place you went to for the day. It wasn't a place you lived. It was a place you went to it's where events took place, but it wasn't a place where you resided. And then after graduating college, where I went to college in the middle of nowhere, in Ohio, surrounded by cornfields , um , I spent some time in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and then in Dijon , South Korea, and I'm in New York as well. And it has been so, so wonderful to learn about that diversity and to not only have it around me, but to feel like you live in it. And that's something that I , I didn't realize either until I moved to the city. So, so what you said really resonated with me there, and I have a followup question to something else you said, because I think there's also this challenge in ministry in general, to try to you try to you to try to be everything for a person or for a congregation and in a city, there are so many other places people could go. So how do you see that playing into the opportunities for ministry? Because there are other places that can meet people's needs, but there's also something special that your ministry or your congregation can provide for someone. So I don't know , do you have any thoughts about that?

Speaker 5:

So recognizing that a church resides in a community, it is a, a church building is a physical building that is lodged in a community. The people who are located in that physical building called a church or a community that are part of a larger community. So it's important that that church community understand the needs of the community, that it is there to serve it's from that perspective that then you decide, okay, so what other resources , um , that exists in our community? What are the needs of the community that we serve? That is so important, especially today that our congregations understand that we serve the community, that our churches are lodged or have the opportunity to be a part of. Uh , we are , we are to be good stewards. So it's important that we know the community, that the church is located in, know the resources, all the people know, the culture, know the rhythm. You can go from to block, to block and see that there are, there are a lot, there are specific , um, communities that are like two or three blocks away from each other. And so that's how you, you determine that you, you, as the pastor, as the session , uh , as the congregation have this beautiful opportunity to serve, but you have to know who it is, the community that you're serving. It's not new serving yourself, but you're there to serve the community.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I love, I love that. And if he can't tell I am from , uh , from a very rural place in South Carolina, but now I just recently moved to DC. I lived in Nashville, Tennessee for about 10 years. And so I am now being, I have now within a very diverse place, and I love that, but I was raised in of 800, a member town, and I even lived out in the country. So I wasn't even around those 800 people. But , uh, but I do, I do, I have noticed in working with the national office of the church, that there's always kind of this like , um, dichotomy between like the rural church and the urban church. And it's almost kind of like set up as kind of this, I don't know, in some ways like a competitiveness or, or there is something that is, there's kind of a negative connotation and a tension between those things. Even when we, we told some people, we were on the way up here and we stopped at this little restaurant and Virginia and somebody was like, where are you going? We're like, oh, we're moving to DC. And they were like, oh my God, like, why would you ever want to do that? And so cities have gotten this kind of also a negative connotation within rural context. And so I just wonder how do we, you know, kind of break that dichotomy. And, and I really love what you're saying. That it's all about context to like a rural place has a context and the urban place has a context. And so I wonder, yeah, how do we do that? Because I've noticed it a lot.

Speaker 5:

Um, it's , it's a part of the human experience. Um, I'm located right now as we're doing this podcast in Alabama. So I , I grew up in Alabama in the south and in a rural , more rural area. And , um, but I've spent much of my life in an urban area, my ministry, and I see it. It is there. I pastor the church in Edgewater, New Jersey, which is right across the Hudson river from New York city. And there are people who were in that community who literally, you could look across and see New York city. And they had not been to New York city in 25 years. And they had no desire to go to New York city. So it's not just the rural and urban and the suburban. It really is about the mindset and the experience and the comfortability of people and how they experienced life , um , and how they want to have, have their experience of life. I think about the Matthew 25 church, which is a part of , of our denominational view right now and how we're moving, towards seeing what we are called to do. And I think that it is a perfect way of responding to your question. It really is about us, rural, suburban, urban, and urban has so urban. There are parts of Nashville, right? That are considered urban, but they are part of Nashville that are considered. If you say that there are parts of Nashville, Tennessee, that are urban to someone in New York city, they will look at you with the big question on their face. Like that's in the south, they've, can't be in an urban areas in the south can there, of course they can. But when you then think about , uh, some , uh, urban area in a smaller urban areas, and then larger urban areas where you have millions of people, it's all about context. W what it boils down to is that we are humans who want to be loved and respected and appreciated that we all are children of God. And we all call to love one another. And until we can get to that basic thing, it really is not going to matter where we are. It doesn't matter where we are until we really get to that space where we can respect each other, who we are as human beings on a very human level.

Speaker 3:

I love that. And I think as you were saying, currently, you're recording with us from Alabama because of the pandemic with folks forced to re rethink the way that they do worship and the way that a lot of churches shifted to virtual. It's interesting because we have folks joining urban congregations or [inaudible] , or joining rural or suburban congregations regardless of where they live. And so the idea that the community, the idea that the church serves the community, regardless of where that person is located is really beautiful. It's also very challenging, but it's forcing us to live into a new way of understanding how to be church. And so I'm curious to see how things progress whenever we finally get past all of this,

Speaker 5:

I don't know if we're going to get past it. I think that we really have to consider that , um, this experience we're having now with COVID-19 and how it has forced us to use technology in a way in our, in our ministries that we have not wanted to do before that we're going to be doing this into the future. And so I think the challenge now is accepting that I'm on calls with people who are still saying that they're waiting to get back to, to not have to use the zoom and not have to use technology. And I keep saying to them, I keep advocating to say, please consider that this is going to be a part of your experience going forward. It may be hybrid. It may be, we may move back into our churches, but now that we have expanded, we have people who have , as you just said, you know, who are members of congregations from different states, from different countries. If you cut off your virtual worship, now you're cutting off part of your, your membership, your congregation. What does, how are you going to address that issue? And even more than that, this has given us an experience of each other virtually that we, you don't get it inside of. We , we have a different mindset when we're in the building and doing work. I think that this type of experience of each other virtually is here to stay. The question is, how do we live into it? And how do we make it a part of who we are rather than it being something that we're waiting to get rid of?

Speaker 2:

Well, we are so grateful to have you with us. I hope whoever is listening to this, and we've kind of created our own little, our own little church on this podcast. We have a little congregation to go into virtually. So we're pretty, pretty proud of that. And we hope that yeah , people who are listening can understand urban ministry and what that means, and that we really learn about the context that we're in. So Reverend Dr. Looney , we thank you so much for being with us today. Thank you for the opportunity.

Speaker 1:

And one does actually going to be staying with us for our resource highlights segment to let folks know about her program at New York theological seminary, which is mentoring for thriving in ministry in the city. So, Wanda, thanks again for being with us. And , uh , what should folks know about this program?

Speaker 5:

Mentoring for thriving in ministry in the city is a mentoring program that was started about four years ago. We received the grant from the Lilly endowment to consider the question, what does it mean to thrive in ministry in the city? What does it mean to thrive in ministry? And so that was a question that we asked ourselves over a period of time , uh, doing research. We , uh , actually asked pastors from different contexts. What does it mean to thrive in ministry? Because not a lot of research done on it. So we developed a mentoring program to actually wrestle with that question. Our students at the seminary received a mentor for two years. They met once a month for two hours and were able to have that kind of support as they consider their theological educational process at New York, theological seminary, but also wrestle with some of these issues that we talked about a few minutes ago. Um, our students are generally full-time pastors. Also, some of them are also working full-time and maybe pastoring part-time. They may have other types of things that they're doing. So it was really a challenge for us to begin to ask that question about thriving in ministry. How do you do it when you are maybe Bible occational and what does it mean to do it in an urban context? And that's how some of these issues of time and space became something that, that we began to notice that in a S uh , as an example in the south on a Sunday, when you think about people, when they go to church on Sunday , um, it's really a cultural thing go to Sunday school. You go to worship service generally afterwards, there may be a meal together, rarely do you. You may even go to another worship service, rarely are there meetings held on a Sunday. In my experience, the opposite of that in the, in the, in the, in an urban context is there are meetings. There are meetings, and then there are meetings for the meetings. And I noticed that , uh, during the, during this time together , uh, when we were working on the grant, I noticed , uh , because I was away for a period of time in the south. Just the difference in how time is, is, is utilized in the south, as opposed to in the north, I did an exercise with the students, and I said, I want you to take a piece of paper and write down everything that you're doing. And some of the students were doing 10, 11, 12, 13 different things. And I said to them, this is something, do you consider yourself thriving as you're doing this? These are areas that a mentor would talk with the student about. Is this an area that, are there areas that you might need to consider cutting back on? Or is it something that is distinct in an urban context? That time means something different and a person can see themselves doing more things because of how time is valued differently than in the south. So it's been an interesting experience for us to just look and , and discussed things. And in the middle of that, COVID-19 happened , uh, the pandemic happens not only the pandemic of COVID-19, but the economic pandemic and the issues of justice , uh, with all of the , uh, the murders that happen . So we shifted a little bit in our mentoring program and are now focusing a lot on how do you do ministry in the midst of COVID-19 or pandemics of this sort. And so our mentoring program is really designed to walk with a student from the time they come into our seminary and they graduate. We are just making that shift now. So that's what our mentoring program is about helping students to learn how to thrive in ministry.

Speaker 3:

Thanks so much, Wanda, and we'll have a link to the information about the program in the show notes for people to check out.

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. [inaudible]

Speaker 3:

Hey everybody. Thanks for listening to episode 26 of a matter of faith, a Presby podcast. Don't forget to subscribe on your preferred podcast platform.

Speaker 2:

Don't forget to leave us a review to bring content to you. And we really prefer five stars. So leave us those five stars and leave us a review.

Speaker 3:

If you have a question that you would like us to respond to, you can write [email protected] . We look forward to hearing from you soon.