Word of the Week

A New Preaching Plaza

Something happened to me on the morning of November 9th of last year. I felt so sad not just as a private citizen but as a faith leader.

I felt so sad for what our newly elected administration would mean for the rights of people of color, immigrants, women or any minority groups for that matter.

I felt so sad for what this new administration would mean for America's peaceful relationship with our global neighbors.

I felt so sad for how the Bible would continue to be misinterpreted to support a theology of nation over liberation and care for all the citizens of the world.

While many of you who also felt this way have found yourself doing more marching, more letter writing, or more organizing over the last six months, a desire bubbled up in me to return to a familiar place.

On November 9th, I told a dear friend, Amanda that post-election I needed to preach. Not just in the ways that I was already engaged in (and enjoyed!)-- through short-term interims and supply preaching-- but I needed preach to a particular congregation.

Who was in the White House became for me a heard calling for "all preaching voices on deck." My colleagues and I talked a lot about what it meant to preach in times like this. AND I could not not be one of these voices. I could not shy away from speaking up even when it was unpopular. I could not keep from leading toward hope.  I could not hold any good news for living in days like this to myself.

But here's the thing. I knew I'm not a traditional pastoral candidate. 

Different from when I began this ordained vocational journey over 10 years ago and immediately pursued a full-time position, I am not the kind of pastor that could give one congregation all of my work anymore. My soul thrives in diversity of tasks.

There's other callings on my life too whose nudges are equally as important to me as preaching.  

Callings like being a writer. Promoting books like I just wrote, Birthed and new books to come!

Callings like being an advocate for children growing up in children's homes internationally. Raising funds for scholarships through the foundation, Our Courageous Kids, that I lead with the help of some great board members.

Callings like being a wife and mother and a friend. Making time for playdates and movie dates and long lunches where I believe the best conversations happen.

And a calling to not do it all, all the time. Sometimes our passions need to be put on the back shelf for a season so that another passion can shine.

Not willing to budge on calling, I knew I would not be a fit for most churches.

(And, I would never ask a church to accept anything less than they need. Most congregations believe they want full-time minister or at least a part-time minister who is full-time available. Yet, that's not my scene. It's ok to not be what someone needs.).

I was wondering how it would all turn out. Especially as my calendar continued to fill with short-term assignments that I enjoyed very much.

I was very content. BUT, here's the news:

I accepted the position of Senior Pastor of Palisades Community Church in Washington, DC. 

This Preacher on the Plaza has a new plaza where you can find her most weeks beginning on September 5th. Palisades is a lovely walking community just outside of the Georgetown neighborhood. 

I want you to know that I said "YES" to this invitation to preach and lead because it wasn't lost on me that this was a parish in Washington DC proper. Proximity matters.

I want you to know I said "YES" because Palisades Community Church is theologically and denominationally in the camp I find myself most comfortable these days-- ecumenical, progressive and with liturgy that looks a lot like a merge of the best mainline Protestant traditions. It's a congregation where gay, straight, young, old, believing or doubting are welcome. And this is how I know how to do church.

I also want you to know I said, "YES" because of how our relationship began with one another. I felt accepted right away. I did not hide the other callings in my life during the interview process. I told them that my child would need a nursery every week and times might come when my husband needed me to support his work in other places. And they said, "Great! We think your other work will enrich our life together."

So on we go together this fall. I'm excited to see how our congregation can grow in community with each other. I'm excited to welcome in more of our neighbors. I'm excited to see how the weekly texts lead me to preach.

Journeying with God is most certainly full of surprises, just as I wrote about last week. And I am continuing to learn how to talk about and lean into this surprise. Most of all, I'm glad for it.