Blog Post

Have You Heard? Can You Do Something About ….

Rev. Tara Barber

Can you do something about___________?

Whether it comes through an email or voicemail, or simply implied after reading the day’s news, ministry is in part the work of answering this question. This question and whether or how we choose to answer, has rippling consequences. Including for the minister themselves.

To have a pastor’s heart means that it will be filled to over-flowing and broken or broken open, often in the same day. You know this to be true. And what happens after, how do you tend to your heart after tending to others?

In a conversation with a colleague a few weeks ago, it was suggested that one of the things missing in our denomination that she had found important in the denomination of her childhood was the expectation that clergy choose someone as their pastor. Someone perhaps in addition to the pastor at the church where they’re in covenant (especially true for local church solo pastors!), who can provide the heart space and spiritual sustenance necessary to continue to serve in this call.

Certainly, we can pray and study, all on our own. Having a pastor, though, helps us settle beneath the daily, offers an external conversation partner who holds our pain and frustration in faith, helps to ritualize the losses, and magnify the glory.

Rather than hearing the initial question as one that demands a “fix”, it more often has a relational response. It is an invitation to connect with someone or some group who can better address the concern.  In this season, MESA (the Ministerial Excellence, Support, and Authorization team of the national UCC) re-commits to expanding the trusted support and accountability found in Communities of Practice, by the development of healthy lay-led Pastoral Support Committees in local churches, and through the strengthening of covenantal relationships between settings and Committees on Ministry and clergy. We each hold a piece of the light, a measure of experience and knowledge, a window into systems, and we need other people who can pull us out of isolation and into beloved community.

So, who is your pastor? And where is your community? And how can we together deepen our connections and build up our systems of support and accountability for such a time as this?

Blessings to you – and know how grateful we on MESA are for your ministries, your faithful leadership, and presence in the world.


Rev. Tara Barber

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