13For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me,when none of them as yet existed.
-NRSV Psalm 139:13-16
My identity as a pastor takes shape at the intersection of despair and hope. I am present with and support individuals and communities in suffering and joy, and bear witness to and facilitate, their transformation. My faith is founded on the following beliefs…
- God is the starting point and source of all creation. God is in whom I locate my identity and my source of guidance and inspiration. God is the reason I do pastoral work.
- God is ever present, relational, and dynamic.
- God acts in love with grace and provision. God is the god of promise and follow-through. God is both universal and personal. God works through individuals and communities across time and diverse cultures. God is working in and through us, even people who we don’t understand or who view the world and God differently than we do.
- God incarnates in Jesus.
- God revealed God-self on human terms through Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
- Jesus continues to bear the suffering of the world and his resurrection is a source of continued hope.
…about the Holy Spirit:
- The Holy Spirit is how God moves, works, and relates in this world.
…about the Trinity:
- The strength of each figure in the Trinity is made stronger through their relationship and ability to work as one.
- God made people good and gave them agency. Humans do not always make choices in line with God’s love and provision. Humans’ choices contribute to suffering or to hope.
- God’s creation is in a constant creative process of change that results in diversity.
…about faith in practice:
- Faith is a response to God. Our faith practices reciprocate God’s provision by reflecting it into the world. Faith practices draw us closer to the mystery who is God, even though God is beyond our total comprehension. Faith practices help people attend to and discern God’s movement in our lives and the world.
- God calls us to be together, to worship together, to share life together, to be in relationship with God and others, and to serve and love each other. This begins at the levels of our most basic relationships.
- Humans are called to promote the dignity, worth, and agency of each person in ways that foster life-giving relationships with others while preserving the earth’s ecosystems.
- Because of the world’s diversity, attending to the care of people means a willingness to accept differences and ambiguities, and to care for and with others in ways that do not diminish others.
- There are often a diversity of faithful responses in a given situation which can contribute to the well-being of individuals and community.
- Following Jesus means entering into the suffering and pain of the world so that the marginalized and oppressed are uplifted and a more just, peaceful, and loving world is created.
- The Word is the foundation upon which faith and Christian life is built. The Bible speaks across time, to multiple people. Its narratives about human life and God’s work in the world are the building blocks upon which an understanding of self and God is built.
…about my personal theology in practice:
- Family systems theory shapes my understanding of responsible pastoral care practices and leads me to characterize practices as personal and relational.
- My personal pastoral practices are rooted in Process, Trinitarian, and Reformed theologies.
- My relational practices are shaped by intercultural and narrative theologies.
- Helping others identify, name, and frame (or re-frame) their desires to imagine and pursue new realities congruent with God’s loving desires for creation drives my caregiving and connects me with promise of the Cross.
- In life, despair and hope intersect. Each moment brings the possibility of moving towards suffering or greater hope. As a pastor, I must be in tune with and manage my self in order to manage the dynamics of relationships with others in healthy ways.
- Prayer, writing, attention to the Biblical narrative, and interdenominational, interfaith and intercultural devotions and interactions are key components of my personal faith practices.