Skip to main content

Happy Anniversary to Me!

Yesterday was my fourth anniversary at St. Paul's, and my fourth anniversary of being a pastor. I find that I'm particularly reflecting on the start of my ministry this year because, as I've mentioned, I am moving September 1 to a new appointment in the Greater New Jersey annual conference.

I've been thinking about how the start of this appointment in Franklin Lakes will be very different from the start of my appointment in Oneida. I'm not a brand new pastor anymore. When I started at St. Paul's, I had been a youth pastor, a ministry intern, and worked at a United Methodist Agency. I had guest-preached a lot. I had been a CPE chaplain. But I'd never been a pastor. I'd never really led a church committee meeting, or filled out statistical tables. I'd never had a staff who primarily reported to me (and the Staff-Parish Relations Committee, of course), I'd never celebrated a baptism and tried to figure out how to hold the baby and the hymnal at the same time. I'd never gotten to bless the communion elements. I'd never had my own office! So many firsts at St. Paul's.

Now, moving to Franklin Lakes, I will have to learn many things, of course. I will learn about the people, and who they are, and how they live and work as disciples. I will learn about their strengths and weaknesses, and I will undoubtedly discover new strengths and weaknesses in myself as I encounter a new, unique setting. But I am already a pastor. I know how to be a pastor, at least on my good days! I am ordained. I have no more probationary covenant group meetings to attend, and Franklin Lakes UMC won't watch me go through the ordination process.

The day before I started at St. Paul's I was overcome with panic - what was I thinking? I didn't know how to be a pastor! How could I go from being just 'me' one day, to being a pastor of a congregation the next? The thought blew my mind. But the next day came, and my extremely gracious and welcoming congregation gave me time and encouragement and let me be their pastor, even if I didn't really know what I was doing.

I'm excited about heading to Franklin Lakes, even though making this move has me anxious and nervous in different ways. But I'm excited, and in part, I'm excited because I will start this appointment with more knowledge and experience than before, and I'm hoping that experience will serve me well.

Four years. I find it hard to believe. Seminary seems like just yesterday to me. But now I've been out of seminary longer than I was in seminary. I can't imagine what it feels like for pastors who have been at congregations ten, fifteen, or twenty years. But as I look around at the people at St. Paul's, I can't believe the changes that have taken place in four years. Children who have been born since I began, or who have gone from teen to adult, or who have gotten married. Parishioners who have died. New families who have joined, and families who have moved away. It has been a full four years.


Reyes-Chow said…
Congrats from some random Presbyterian on the same ride!
Anonymous said…
Happy Anniversary Beth!!
Love you....
Anonymous said…
Well, happy anniversary.
Enjoy the next stage of the journey.
And by the way,you figured out how to hold the baby and the book and the book and celebrate the baptism all at the same time. I'm impressed. They've turned me out to pasture and I'm still working on it.
Hello Beth,

Happy Anniversary! I have enjoyed reading your blog for a year or so. I think I first linked to it from the Wesley Daily blogsite, which I miss. I am a second career UM candidacy candidate. My wife and I are both active in our UM church in Colorado Springs, and I work remotely for a software company headquartered near Rochester, NY. Just wanted to let you know that I hope during my journey I will have the grounded sense of faith and trust which appears inherent in your ministry. I think I would like to get into this blogging stuff, too, and your site is excellent.

Peace and grace to you on your jouney!

Popular posts from this blog

Sermon for Second Sunday in Advent, "Peace: All Is Calm, All Is Bright," Isaiah 11:1-10, Mark 13:24-37

Sermon 12/3/17 Mark 13:24-37, Isaiah 11:1-10 Peace: All Is Calm, All Is Bright             “Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright. Round yon’ virgin mother and child. Holy infant, so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace. Sleep in heavenly peace.”             This week, I read news stories about North Korea testing a missile that perhaps could reach across the whole of the United States.             This week, I spoke with a colleague in ministry who had, like all churches in our conference, received from our church insurance company information about how to respond in an active shooter situation. She was trying to figure out how to respond to anxious parishioners and yet not get caught up in spending all of their ministry time on creating safety plans.             This week, we’ve continued to hear stories from people who have experienced sexual assault and harassment, as the actions, sometimes over decades, of men in positions of power have been

Sermon for the First Sunday in Advent, "Hope: A Thrill of Hope," Mark 1:1-8

Sermon 11/26/17 Mark 1:1-8 Hope: A Thrill of Hope             Are you a pessimist or an optimist? Is the glass of life half empty, or half full? My mom and I have gone back and forth about this a bit over the years. She’s wildly optimistic about most things, and sometimes I would say her optimism, her hopefulness borders on the irrational. If the weather forecast says there’s a 70% chance of a snowstorm coming, my mom will focus very seriously on that 30% chance that it is going to be a nice day after all. I, meanwhile, will begin adjusting my travel plans and making a backup plan for the day. My mom says I’m a pessimist, but I would argue that I’m simply a realist , trying to prepare for the thing that is most likely to happen, whether I like that thing or not. My mom, however, says she doesn’t want to be disappointed twice, both by thinking something bad is going to happen, and then by having the bad thing actually happen. She’d rather be hopeful, and enjoy her state of

Sermon, "Invitational: Deep Waters," Luke 5:1-11

Sermon 1/31/16 Luke 5:1-11 Invitational: Deep Waters                         I’m fascinated by the fact that for all that we know, as much as we have discovered, for all of the world we humans feel like we have conquered, there are still so many that things that we don’t know and can’t control, so much that we are learning yet, every day. Even today, every year, scientists discover entirely new species of plants and animals. And one part of our world that is rich in things yet-to-be-discovered is in the mysterious fathoms below – the deep, deepest waters of the ocean. In 2015, for example, scientists discovered this Ceratioid anglerfish that lives in the nicknamed “midnight zone” of the ocean. It doesn’t look like other anglerfish – one news article described it as looking like a “rotting old shoe with spikes, a scraggly mustache and a big mouth with bad teeth. And it has a long, angular fishing pole-looking thing growing out of its head.” [1] Or there’s Greedo, named after