Friday, January 14, 2011

Finance, Freedom, and Fear

No, I still haven't gotten together with my pastor (I'll call him Mac. I am SO creative with my pseudonyms). I haven't called him, either. I'm actually thinking that I'll wait until after Monday night's Church Council meeting, because by that point I'll actually have a much better idea of the ministry needs of the church and where I might best "fit in." We also didn't make it to Sunday School, but not for lack of trying. We were all dressed and ready by 8:50, when Walter began screaming his little head off. Poor guy was tired and wanted a nap, so I put him in his crib. I then decided that Nora and I would go to Sunday School. Before I could put my coat on, both of my pagers (I have one for each hospital) started going off. Thankfully, I didn't have to go in for anything, but it was 9:30 by the time I finished dealing with everything. Maybe next Sunday? I'm hoping to transition Walter to a later nap, so that he can nap in the nursery and we can make it to Sunday School.

On Wednesday night, I went to a Finance Committee meeting. I was fairly anxious about it, because of my experience at SJ, where our Finance meetings were always unbelievably depressing. This one wasn't that depressing. Granted, there were serious and scary topics discussed (the congregation is feeling the effects of the economy, and their monthly mortgage payment is more than my annual salary was at SJ), but there was a "we're in this together" attitude and a "we're going to make it through this" attitude. There was fear present (understandable, since they're in a financial crunch), but I also sensed hope. And that meeting made me even more thankful that I am part of this congregation and gave me a stronger desire to serve them, even in a fairly limited capacity for now.

It's occurred to me that as non-appointed clergy in this congregation, I have a certain amount of freedom that I certainly won't have when I become Pastor Patti again. At BTUMC, I am not the pastor. That's Mac's job. I just get to be Patti. Sure, I may have the occasional opportunity to act in a pastoral capacity (preaching, teaching, visitation), but by and large, I will be interacting with the congregation as a fellow member (although I'm a member of the Annual Conference, not of the local congregation). That means that I can show my personality without fear of retribution, that I can crack jokes about only being at meetings so I can get out of the house and away from the kids, and that I can (as the opportunity arises) make friends with people, share my wounds, and receive healing.

I've found that as I do things for the first time in a while and/or since SJ (preaching, teaching, meetings), I have to face certain fears that I didn't know were still present. However, each time I face those fears and try to overcome them (by going to a meeting, by accepting a preaching engagement, by showing my personality), I find that old, painful memories are replaced with new, better experiences. I feel like my experience and image of the church is being slowly redeemed. Yay!

I just hope that BTUMC can handle my occasional snarky sense of humor.

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