I live in the Pacific Northwest, also known as the none and done zone. None as in no religious affiliation and done as in done with institutionalized religion. Which makes doing ministry out here quite interesting. Churches are closing every year yet; new churches are starting that don’t look like institutionalized churches. My bishop Elaine Stanovsky said “Methodism is an institution. We need a new renewal movement.” That renewal movement is happening in the none and done zone right now. Church is happening in a bar at After Hours Denver, through the thousands of daily meals served at Glide Memorial in San Francisco, through the new church start that is dreaming and thinking of what church should be in the Green Lake area of Seattle.
I feel led to do ministry out here because church isn’t just something you do on Sunday mornings. There is no right way to experience church. But, as someone who is considering ordination in The United Methodist Church as a Deacon I see my role in the church as being a bridge between the world and the church in a way that lives out my Baptismal Covenant.
I celebrate the fact that I live in the none and done zone. Ministry out here is just different. You’re in uncharted territories. You can hear people like Nadia Bolz-Weber speaking in a church saying things such as “Burn it the fuck down and start over” on homosexuality language in church discipline and rules. And hear people clap joyously for there is so much truth in 8 words that have caused so much harm to people both inside and outside the church.
Church out here is being an open and inclusive church since day one of starting your church. It’s when church pastors aren’t afraid of asking their non-binary and trans friends for support and suggestions when a congregation member comes out to them. I celebrate the ability to be completely open about my gender identity in the ordination process without the fear of being turned away because of being my whole authentic self.
In ministry, I’ve noticed you can’t do things alone. You must have people with you on this journey. To help you, to mentor you, and to be a companion with you as you navigate ministry and its evolving ways. Saint Augustine of Hippo sums up kindred quite well. “Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by accidents of time, or place, or circumstance, are brought into closer connection with you.” Who are the kindred spirits in your life that help you in your ministry setting?