A beloved community was in full bloom at the spring Order of Elders, Order of Deacons, Fellowship of Local Pastors & Associate Members Gathering on April 26, 2018. Clergy gathered at Ames First United Methodist Church to address the common anxiety in the Iowa Conference around the upcoming General Conference sessions.
“Today is an opportunity to be together, take a deep breath, and address our common anxiety about where our church is right now,” said Rev. Scott Lothe, an Orders planning committee member. “We’re in limbo, and not really sure what the 2019 General Conference will bring. We’ve brought the clergy around the important and critical issues of our day to be in conversation with one another.”
Orders events typically revolve around those critical issues, and also topics like self-care, communication and clergy support systems.
“One of the things that Orders does is bring us together and reminds us that we’re part of a greater connection, part of a beloved community among ourselves as we seek to serve God and our people at our local churches,” said Rev. Fred Lewis, Senior Minister at Ames First U.M. Church. “They bring in speakers that address the various concerns that we face as we try to be leaders in our local parishes and the arenas of our ministries”
The speaker of the day was Dr. Mark Minear, who served for about 20 years as a minister in the Society of Friends as a Quaker pastor before returning to get his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. Dr. Minear asked the clergy to Befriend their Anxietyby seeing it as something to explore, so that they could be more present for others.
“I was aware by the committee that put this together that there is considerable anxiety in regard to the human sexuality issue,” said Dr. Minear. “Without tackling it directly I was wanting to explore some ways to work with the anxiety around that, so that we can be as followers of Jesus, spiritually centered and emotionally grounded.”
He led clergy through an exercise to discover their anxiety personality type, and then followed with small group discussions on how to deal with it in a more creative way.
“Instead of seeing anxiety as something we need to push away, find a way instead to be curious, draw closer, investigate it with kindness,” he said. “Perhaps, with that self-compassion, we may be able to work with that anxiety in a more creative way. Thus, we can then be present to other people and amidst their anxieties, whatever they may be.”
In the months leading up to General Conference, Rev. Lothe and his committee is hoping to make room for everyone to have a place in the conversation.
“What we’re attempting to do here, is to bring all Iowa United Methodist Clergy into our order and fellowship with all its diversity and try to make room for everyone in these conversations,” he said. “While this is a day apart, it is within an order with all of its theological and practice of ministry diversity, to share with one another and to connect.”
The next Orders day will be held October 30, 2018, and will focus on what proposals are coming to General Conference and the Way Forward discussion.