We are thrilled to be joined by a panel of seven pastors who are serving in a wide variety of ministry contexts across the country: J.C. Austin, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Bethlehem, PA, Jerry Cannon, Pastor of C.N. Jenkins Memorial Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC, Kristy Farber, Pastor of Mercer Island Presbyterian Church in Mercer Island, WA, Kate Flexer, Rector of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Manhattan, NY, Kevin Haah, Pastor of New City Church of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, CA, Amy Starr Redwine, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Richmond, VA, and Leon Stevenson, Pastor of Mack Avenue Community Church in Detroit, MI. They are sharing with us what they’re experiencing, learning, thinking about, and how they are leading. We think pastors and congregational leaders will find valuable points of intersection with these panelists and their experiences, and that we will all leave the conversation with more ideas, energy, and courage for navigating the pandemic faithfully.
I was the Facilitator for the first New York City cohort, and at the time, I was working in theological education on Christian leadership formation, so it seemed like a natural fit. What I discovered, though, was something quite different from my “day job.” While the content and topics of the curriculum was a crucial part of our gatherings, it was the community of mutual care and support that made the content relevant, not the other way around. And second, having three years of strong bonding created an extraordinarily resilient community that, in turn, was able to build up resilience in our leaders. I think every member of my cohort went through significant seasons of both joy and heartache, professionally and vocationally, during our time. And the cohort, in turn, lived out the exhortation of Romans 12:15, “rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep,” with a depth and integrity that I have rarely experienced, and often doing both in the same gathering. It was a privilege and a blessing to me and my own faith and ministry to be their facilitator, and I am eternally grateful to the Ministry Collaborative for calling me to that work!”