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We are delighted to bring you our first-ever GUEST POST written by Adam Walker Cleaveland:  Cup-of-cool-water

I can still picture the conference room at the monastery outside of Twin Falls, Idaho. I was an inquirer in the Presbyterian Church (USA) ordination process, and was meeting with my Committee on Preparation for Ministry (CPM). This annual consultation was taking longer than I thought it would. I was asked about my sense of call, and I shared some of the diverse ministry experiences I’d had over the years and the different things I enjoyed about them all.

The chair of the CPM then leaned in closer to me and said, “So…what I hear you saying is that you don’t have a call.”

“No, I have a pretty clear sense of call to ministry – I’m just trying to figure out what that looks like for me.”

CPM Chair: “So…you don’t really have a call then, right?”

As you can imagine, it was a frustrating conversation.  I knew colleagues in seminary whose sense of call was very clear: “I want to be an associate pastor for two years, then I’ll be a solo pastor at a small to medi- um sized church for 4–6 years, and then I’ll become head of staff at a medium to large sized church).”

But that wasn’t me. And I was okay with that. I’d tried camping ministry, youth ministry, college ministry and clinical pastoral education, and I loved all of it. I didn’t see that as a problem, as this other pastor clearly did.


Since seminary, I’ve served three churches, primarily doing youth ministry. After some frustrating and difficult experiences with a couple churches, and feeling like I really needed a break from parish ministry, I found myself doing pulpit supply and trying to figure out what was next.

But here’s the thing: I’ve always had other interests in addition to ministry. I’m not saying that makes me unique, but I do know some pastors who are so fo- cused on their churches and ministries, they often forget to practice some good self-care and spend time doing things they love.

About three years ago, I started drawing again. I used to love to draw as a kid, and I began to reconnect with that interest. I took some online classes, received a self-care grant from the Presbytery of Chicago and bought a lot of art supplies, and began finding ways to incorporate art into my ministry.

Continue Reading…

carol-howard-merritt-photo-authorTo continue on with our series “Wisdom for the Journey” – we interviewed Carol Howard Merritt.  Merritt is a well-respected pastor from within the PC(USA) who has continued to guide us in the ways of 21st century ministry.  Her writing, speaking, and teaching have been invaluable to us and we were honored for her to spend some time with us answering our questions.

  • What was a memorable moment in your first year of ministry? 

There were so many moments. I moved to the swamps of Louisiana, and I had all KINDS of culture shock. I loved learning about Mardi Gras, and it was a wonderful experience to watch the entire culture live into the liturgical calendar. Then the scariest moment came on Easter Sunday morning. I hadn’t finished my sermon. I had thought about it, studied, and worried about it so much that I didn’t actually complete it.

Let me be clear. We were talking about 30 people, even on Easter. But I felt like the worst pastor in the world. Of course, I had it planned out, so the impromptu ending was fine. It might have even been better because I was making eye contact and not reading a manuscript. But I seriously thought I was going to crap in front of every one on Easter.

  • What was some helpful advice you were once given?  

Continue Reading…

BRCFormer PC(USA) Moderator, Bruce Reyes-Chow, sat down with some of us MTP folk for a guest video interview on Google Hangout. Check out our riveting conversation below.