My clergy friends have all loved this book. I wonder whether it wouldn't make good reading for a church personnel or staff support committee too -- a little window into some of the realities of the ministerial life, told with humor and hope.
Carol Howard Merritt has an interesting reflection on mentoring and internships at her blog this week. Reading it made me grateful that Lutherans still maintain the tradition of the internship year, even though it does indeed create financial and family hardships in our current economic climate. The alternative -- being thrown into full-time parish ministry, often alone and isolated, straight from seminary, seems to leave way too much to chance. The ELCA has tried to develop models of first-call education, but in my experience they are not well-funded or well-supported enough to be of much use.
Of course, there are alternatives to our 2-1-1 traditional system of internship. Because I didn't attend a Lutheran seminary, the "terminal internship" worked OK for me, though it still left me with another year of virtually no income. Even better, I think, are the ways that the Lilly Endowment is sponsoring Transition into Ministry programs such as the "residency" model. The gifted people I've seen pass through that model finish their residency pretty much ready for anything.
In any case, I think the lesson is clear: it takes more than education to make a pastor. It takes relationships with other clergy, and, most importantly, a congregation that is willing to learn and grow with their pastor.
The wind is blowing much stronger today: a constant reminder
that there isn’t much between us and the Rocky Mountains.
The usefulness of trees for windbreaks becomes more and more clear.
Today our focus in Bible Study and activities was humankind.
We talked a bit this morning about what that troublesome command to “have
dominion” over the earth might mean, and what kind of caretaking we humans are
Then, we were off to HeronLake, where we were welcomed into the
basement of the town library, which also houses the HeronLake
food shelf. To say it’s a small operation is an understatement; it’s staffed
solely by volunteers from the United Methodist youth group, and is open weekly
for just a couple hours. Nevertheless, the need is great. We heard a great
presentation from a HeronLake resident who is also on staff at the Heartland
Second Harvest Food Bank in Maplewood about a
new initiative to end hunger in Minnesota.
Low-income Minnesotans miss an average of 10 dinners a month, and a new
cooperative effort of research and planning hopes to end that. The statistics
from rural Minnesota
are particularly startling. In this and adjoining counties, poverty rates range
from 20-25% of the population.
Just after days of hearing about the difficulties for
farmers with the current agribusiness system, and the fact that this abundant
soil is mostly NOT going toward food fit for human consumption, the hunger
statistics both make sense and are deeply troubling. It was heartening to hear
about concrete efforts across government, business and non-profit sectors.
Still in HeronLake, we spent the rest of the morning weeding a
community garden run by the local chapter of Future Farmer’s of America. Guided
by local high school students, we made some good progress keeping the weeds at
bay. We had lunch in town in Windom and then finished out our “human” day at a
local nursing home. Over root beer floats we chatted with the residents there
and then played “card bingo” and sang for them. For my part, I heard some great stories from a
retired farmer who recalled in great detail a tornado that hit his farm in
1944. The residents seemed very pleased to have us visit with them.
It’s our last evening at the farm. Tomorrow we’ll head back
to the Cities with lots of stories, even more questions, and motivation to be
mindful of the interconnections between farm and market, land and food, city
and country. We’re grateful to April, Rae, Margaret and Mark for sharing their
home with us and introducing us to the complexity beneath the surface of this
wide open landscape.