A Word from DS Teresa Welborn – 9/17/2020

I find myself saying the same thing over and over lately: This is a difficult season for a host of reasons, take care of yourselves! But to be honest, at some point the call to “take care!” can sound shallow and trite at times. With all that is swirling about, how do we “take care”?           

A few things:          

 – In this newsletter you will find a link explaining a resource for clergy for free wellness conversations available through Friday, October 9th. As it reads, “This has been an exhausting year, with many challenges weighing heavy on our minds and hearts.” Please take a look at that resource and use it if you feel it will be helpful.           

– I appreciate those of you who have shared with me the challenges you and/or your churches are facing. Please continue to reach out to me as you feel a need to. As you well know, I have no magic wand or easy answers. But I am committed to assisting and supporting you and those you serve any way I can. As well, I’m glad to see the number of clergy connections and conversations taking place during this time. Whether it is coming together to share about personal concerns or church concerns, finding colleagues with whom to visit and pray can make a big difference. If you feel alone, please let me know and let’s visit about what connections and resources might be helpful.          

– Many things related to the church such as finances, General Conference, and the impact of online worship only add to the heavy load many clergy and others who work within the church are experiencing. I care about church decline because it impacts our ability to partner with God in God’s transforming work in the world. And I care about institutional concerns such as General Conference because it impacts who we are and who we will become as a denomination. But I want you to hear clearly from me as your District Superintendent that what I care most about is people, and in particular your health and well-being as clergy.           

 – As we well know, being able to name our stress and grief is important. When I am honest about my work-related stress, I admit that I have more questions than I do answers. Perhaps the only consolation is that I am not alone in this. Church Consultant Susan Beaumont recently wrote an article with the stark title Five Assumptions Failing Us Now. She concludes her article by saying, “I suspect that some of you reading this article were hoping for more answers and fewer unsettling questions. We are living in liminal times—not yet ready to know the answers to many of the questions facing us. We need to sit in the uncertainty of not knowing for a while yet, as our new normal takes shape. While we wait, we can challenge the old assumptions and work to form better questions about our next chapter.” The hope for a new chapter does indeed bring hope. And our willingness to ask hard questions and wonder about creative approaches will impact the future. You can read Beaumont’s full article here.       

– When it comes to grief, there seems to be no end to listing the people and things and experiences we have lost over the last several months. Being able to name our desperation and grief is important. Maybe some of you don’t have any at this time, though I have encountered many people who put on a good front, but stuff it down while they keep on going. I know because I am that person at times. Below this article, I have placed a prayer blessing by Jan Richardson that has often spoken to me when I’m living in a difficult season. Among other things, it is a blessing for rest and for dreaming. This is my prayer for you. To rest. And dream.           

– And finally, Yes! – there truly is good in the world and in our lives. As you are honest about all that is hard, please take time to name what you are grateful for. Over the weekend I attended an online celebration recognizing a number of Capital District churches who have led in generosity and commitment to the CROP Walk to end hunger. Earlier this week I received a handmade card from my young nephew in South Dakota. Last night my daughter and I went to drop off books at her school library only to run into her friend out with family walking their dog. What simple yet meaningful joys have shown up in your life this week? The art of cultivating gratitude is at risk these days, but we need it more than ever.           

Stay encouraged!



When you come
to the place between.
When you have left
what you heldmost dear.
When you are traveling
toward the life
you know not.
When you arrive
at the hardest ground.
May it becomefor you
a place to rest.
May it become
for you
a place to dream.
May the pain
that has pressed itself
into you
give way
to vision,
to knowing.
May the morning
make of it
an altar,
a path,
a place to begin

—Jan Richardson