In October of 2013, I attended the “Healthy Congregations” facilitator training at Montreat (North Carolina). It was a 3-4 day course that John Guthrie, my pastor at the time, and I traveled to Montreat to take.
While there, I met Roberta (“Bert”). She quickly became a fast friend and we had lots of wonderful conversations in the midst of all things conference/Healthy Congregations. Bert was a pastor, serving in Northwest Ohio.
Bert recently retired! She’s now doing all sorts of amazing things with her life like traveling around Europe and completing needlepoint projects and drinking Moscow Mules (and many, many other things. She may be retired, but I can’t see that she’s slowed down).
Since I’ve met Bert, she’s been so supportive of me, cheering me on from afar through seminary, and offering her insights and wisdom when needed. Earlier this year, in anticipation of my graduation, accepting a call, and ordination, she sent me some of her beautiful stoles (pictured above). This is no small gift, as these stoles have had a lot of meaning for her as a pastor. I will wear them, honored by her friendship and determined to be a person of love and justice, just as she is. Bert has truly been a friend in ministry to me. I’ve appreciated her wisdom and care through the years and am grateful that we both were at Montreat one week in October five years ago!
Through this life-long journey, God has blessed me with so many friends in ministry, who have shared love, encouragement, knowledge, experiences, and resources with me. They are pastors and leaders who answer my questions without making me feel dumb, and who share what they have with me so that I can be a better pastor. As a pastor, I will pay those kindnesses forward, and look for ways that I can be a friend in ministry whenever and however I can.