One year ago, Matthew and I were unloading a U-Haul truck in our new Greenville neighborhood, wondering what life would be like at First Baptist. It’s hard to believe that I am halfway through the 2-year pastoral residency, but time flies when you are part of a church community that digs in and loves big even during a pandemic.
While my years at Duke Divinity were intellectually and ethically formative, we all know that there’s a big difference between writing papers and putting skills into practice. Doctors complete a residency position as a bridge between the classroom and private practice, so why shouldn’t the people we entrust to care for our souls? After graduating from seminary in 2020, I hoped that this residency would help me learn the “nuts and bolts” of church leadership, practice ministry skills, and learn from experienced pastors.
I have had the chance to focus on four areas within our church: administration, pastoral care, worship, and children/youth ministry. After one year serving as your pastoral resident, here are some of the things I have learned that seminary never taught me:
• The kind of vision and planning for guiding a church through big changes
• The church’s development of a sustainable and cohesive approach to community stress (i.e. a global pandemic)
• The appearance of a church budget
• How to pray over the phone
• Appropriate clothes for hospital visits (Have pockets. There’s no room for a purse!)
• Classic hymns to include in funeral bulletins
• How an administrative staff works (This one wasn’t brand new information, but I have a deeper appreciation for how our administrative staff holds all the pieces together!)
• Practice leading communion liturgy (hint: always pre-slice the loaf!)
• How to answer a child’s questions about God in a way that encourages curiosity (Pastor Becky is a master at this!)
• Expectation that youth and children will offer profound insights on their spiritual life
I am so grateful for the chance to be part of this community. It’s the best job in the world – one that hardly feels like a job, at all. It’s a privilege and a blessing. Can’t wait to see what joy the next year brings!