Word of the Week

Memories of Summer

In churches, summer is the time that most pastors, ministries and worship attendance drops or slows down. Few churches have many expectations for summer, it seems.

Though we are trying not to be most churches (and have successfully maintained around our average attendance in the summer as if it was spring), I have to say that there is a part of me that misses the fast paced summers of my youth. The pace and expectations of church life from my pastor's chair, now seems slow.

Summer have always represented for me times of big change, of personal growth and new experiences. Some of the most life shaping experiences I've had, have all come in the summer.

COlogoJPEGwebSummers like the year I went out on my own for the first time, committed to serve with a city based ministry in Charleston, SC with 4o+ college and grad school students when I had just finished my junior year of high school. It was a summer of learning to be away from home and live with in community with those who challenged me emotionally and spiritually. It was a summer of learning for the first time that salvation is more than praying a particular prayer. It was a summer of teaching basketball and life skills to intercity children-- leading me to major in education in college.

Summers like the year after my junior year of college that I served on staff of Son Servants, a youth mission camp. Itphoto7 was a summer of traveling from the poorest regions of Jamaica, to the backwoods of West Virginia, to the pariries of an Indian Reservation in South Dakota, to the poverty of Tex-Mex border (No, I'm not making all of this up; it was quite the traveling experience). It was a summer of learning that ministry is about giving up all control as you never know what might happen or what conditions you might endure. It was a summer of sleeping in hallways, on bunk beds and in tents. It was a summer about coming believe in myself as a leader too.

Summers like after my second year of Duke Divinity, coming to Washington DC to a church I'd never heard of before to learn from a pastor I'd never met either. In the end, it was a summer of knowing from the bottom of my toes to the top of my head that I was called to be a pastor and that ordination was for me. It was a summer of learning how to be alone as much as it was about being with others. It was a summer about my life direction changing in more ways than one.

But, as much as I long for one of these experiences once again, I know that my calling is different now as Rev. Elizabeth Hagan, pastor of Washington Plaza Baptist Church. 

This summer has been about being a supportive wife, a friend, and a minister committed to doing the little things that I can each week to help our community of faith thrive.

This summer has been about learning from and preaching about the life of David as seen in I and II Samuel.

This summer has been about cookouts and picnics. Some time for the beach and some time at home. This summer has been about enjoying the warmer weather and longer days.

This summer has been about staying put.

While it good to have memories of the the gifts of summers past, I'm thankful to be charting the path I'm on in my adult married life of belonging to a home, a community and city where I am to be for a while.

Here's to hoping that your summer is bringing the beauty of new memories as you chart the course of what this summer is to be for you! And, so glad there there is still more summer for all of us yet to come.