Last week, clergy and laity gathered together for the first official Michigan Conference. As is usual, we began with the Memorial Service, honoring those who journeyed with us, and have now gone onto glory. The Bishop, Laura Witkowski, Associate Director for Lay Leadership, and Rev. Dr. Jennifer Browne, Director of Clergy Excellence delivered powerful and inspirational messages about how we can put our courage into action.
We celebrated Local Pastors who completed the Course of Study or have become Associate Members. We said farewell to our Retirees, who had a combined 600 plus years of service. We also welcomed those who were commissioned and ordained at the Conference’s closing service on Sunday.
Becca Farnum and Kirsten K. Grauer were invited Conference speakers. Becca is an Environmentalist, Peacebuilder and Educator. Kristen is a Foreign Service Officer in the U. S. Department of State. Awesome titles. And if you asked me what either of those women did, I couldn’t offer you any kind of job description until they spoke. And then I was amazed.
Becca, a Preacher’s kid, works all over the world, helping communities find ways to use natural resources to provide food and water. Becca is a thinker and a dreamer. She enters into neighborhoods, recognizes a need and helps those living there develop creative ways to bridge the gap between what is and what is possible. You wouldn’t know that from her title. It’s the way she seeks to be the voice and hands of our Lord each day that was truly inspirational.
The same is true for Kirsten who is also a Preacher’s kid. As she shared with us what it means to be a diplomat, she also spoke of the unique way she has answered the Lord’s call on her life. She credits her upbringing in the church for how she is in relationship with other Americans and the people they serve throughout the world. Like Becca, she has brought God’s love to her work and the people she serves.
Neither of their job titles encompass all that these women do each day. They have met numerous people, developed meaningful relationships and transformed lives. In their own way, they are both living out the call God has placed upon them. They are making a difference by being present in body and spirit during some very difficult and complicated places in our world. Each woman models what it means to live as a Christian in a world that needs more examples of how God’s love lives in each of us.
We too have a title. Whether it is lay leader, lay speaker, lay minister or clergy, these words do not begin to describe what we do. We live out the call the Lord has placed upon us in both extraordinary and unique ways. We embrace the call to mission and service with the spiritual gifts we have received. Like Kirsten and Becca, it is not our titles which define our work. It is how we seek to live out God’s commandment to make disciples for the transformation of the world that translates into what we do in our Savior’s name. We are teachers, counselors, healers, environmentalists, ambassadors, orators, dreamers and doers. May we continue to reach new people, build new relationships and create new communities of love for all of God’s children. And Amen.