Residents' Corner (June 2018)

From Brennan (Pearson) and Laura Blue

From Brennan (Pearson) and Laura Blue Brennan and Laura welcomed Avery Eileen Blue on Sunday, May 13 (her due date!). Avery was born at 3:39 a.m. at 7 pounds 4 ounces, and 19.5 inches long. Both Avery and Laura are well.

One Year In

Since their arrival in August, our residents have completed the first three modules of a carefully conceived peer-education and professional development sequence. After a month-long orientation process designed to bring them “on board” at First Pres., the residents launched into an intensive preaching and worship development module, crafting liturgy for communion, preaching brief “trial” sermons to each other and the program director, and developing voice and motion in worship. The second module involved pastoral identity formation, predicated on a strengths-based approach to personal development. In the third module, the residents reflect upon leadership in the ministry, with readings of important texts, coupled with visits and seminars with leaders from various ministries and exemplary leaders from all fields from our own congregation.

The Residency Program is based on peer learning: residents learn from each other and have abundant opportunities to reflect on their learning. All the while, of course, they learn from doing, by intense immersion in all aspects of the work of our church—pastoral care, worship, Christian education, witness, and committee involvement. This is the purpose of the residency. Recently we asked the residents to identify key insights from the past nine months. Here are some of their answers. For Blair Buckley perhaps the most valuable lesson learned is that “in ministry you often have to step into a situation that you didn’t engineer or may not quite understand,” and, even if that situation “has played out in a way that you don’t totally agree with, you still work with that starting point and try to build from there.” Prior to joining us, the largest church Dorothy Parks-Piatt had served had about 500 members. “This year,” she says, “I have learned much from colleagues and church members at First Pres about pastoral care for a multigenerational congregation and about cultivating smaller spaces for personal engagement, faith formation, and community building within a large church atmosphere.” Eric Koenig-Reinke, too, has been challenged by “navigating the complexities of this particular large church, and, not unlike Blair and Dorothy, he finds “that a lot of what I am ‘learning’ is not so much a set of skills as a growing level of comfort—or in some cases working through discomfort—and greater self-understanding in the various roles of ministry that I’m engaged in.”

We are blessed to have these young pastors serving our congregation. First Pres’ Residency challenges them in various ways by exposing them to the real joys and demands of parish ministry. But that is part of the point of an effective residency and another indicator of the powerful effect of our program.