Participating as a conference minister in the Journey Program (a leadership program for pastors and lay leaders) through Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary has been a very rewarding experience for me, and I am always so appreciative of the bond between students and mentors. While the student is the one experiencing the program, the mentors come alongside for check-ins, support and encouragement. I believe there is great value in experiencing that you’re not doing things alone. Mentorship has been such an enriching part of my life, and not just my professional life. It’s pretty amazing to have a place to bounce ideas off, receive emotional and vocational support, and have an advocate in your corner. There’s no age limit to having a mentor, and I would encourage anyone to seek out support from a trusted person.
2. Pumpkin spice is back again!
It wouldn’t be September if I didn’t wax rhapsodic about my love of most things pumpkin spice. I am the first to admit that not everything needs to have an autumnal flavor. I have received at least a dozen pictures about the fake “pumpkin spice communion wafers” meant to be a joke. Yes, ha ha, and no, I don’t promote that! I encourage all of you who are so inclined to forget how cliché it is and buy that pumpkin spice candle (I’m currently burning one in my office right now), get that pumpkin doughnut, get that pumpkin sweet cream cold brew from Starbucks (superior to the famous “PSL”) and wrap yourself in a cozy blanket and pretend like it isn’t 80 degrees outside. You deserve it.
3. New book
Resistance: Confronting Violence, Power and Abuse in Peace Churches is a new book published by the Institute of Mennonite Studies by Cameron Alteras and edited by Carol Penner. In it, many people from the peace church tradition have chapters about their experiences of violence and abuse within the frame of having a pacifist theological background. I have a chapter in the book about my own experience with sexual assault and reflecting on that through the lens of my church tradition (Mennonite Church USA). There are many, many stories from others from various backgrounds telling their own stories of using power to move toward transformation. The book is available through the Institute of Mennonite Studies or Amazon.
4. Resources for disabilities
I had the honor of writing a study guide after the passing of the Accessibility Resolution by the MC USA delegate body. A copy of the resolution can be found here. This study guide is for churches who want to take next steps in becoming more accessible. The study guide uses storytelling, Biblical grounding, interviews from disability advocates and various forms of media. The study guide can be found here.
This is one of the most powerful documentaries I’ve seen on abuse in the church. A group of men who are survivors of abuse by priests write their own scripts and direct their own “scenes” about the abuse they underwent at the hands of clergy. This undertaking is part of their healing journey. The men are at various stages of this healing, and all of them have PTSD in the wake of their experiences. They find solidarity with one another and form deep bonds. Unique in its scope, this documentary emphasizes the difficulty of addressing the past (one contractor remarked that he has no trouble confronting people, but can’t speak about what happened to him when he was 13), the importance of healing in community and the power of storytelling. A trailer, which I strongly recommend you take a look at, can be found here.