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Doing ministry in stressful times

2020 was a stressful time to be a pastor. Nearly 400 Michigan clergy joined Bishop Bard at an online event to focus on revitalization. Video recordings are now available to all.

Bishop Bard began the virtual gathering, Come to the Well, with these words of Jesus: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me, and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me, and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)

On January 12, 2021, The Michigan Conference hosted a three-hour clergy care program with the theme, “Come to the Well.” Nearly 400 clergy joined Bishop Bard that morning for a time of prayer, reflection, music, and encouragement. 

Clergy unable to be present on January 12, and interested laity may now watch the recordings of the event. “Come to the Well” may be viewed on Vimeo here

The experience included guest appearances by four Michigan bishops, sharing scripture and prayer: Linda Lee (31:00), Donald Ott (45:40), Deborah Lieder Kiesey (1:02:24), and Jonathan Keaton (1:27:10). 

Come to the Well:  Rev. Dr. Margie Crawford, Superintendent of Midwest District, shares her passion with jigsaw puzzles
Rev. Dr. Margie Crawford, Superintendent of Midwest District, shares her passion with jigsaw puzzles. ~ VIMEO screen capture

The morning also included four vignettes of individual clergy reflecting on how they deal with stress:

  • Rev. Dr. Margie Crawford, Superintendent of Midwest District, shares her passion with jigsaws in “A Puzzling Solution to Stress.” Watch
  • Pastor Chad Parmalee, Battle Creek Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, talks about his knitting hobby in “Busy Hands, Calm Mind.” Watch
  • Rev. Sari Brown, Port Hope United Methodist Church, reflects on music as spiritual practice and self-care in “Shake it Off.” Watch
  • Pastor Dillon Burns of Manchester United Methodist Church, shares his poem, “Unprecedented.”  Watch

Bishop Bard served as host of the event, guiding word-cloud exercises, reading poetry, reflecting on scripture, and providing words of encouragement and hope.

He closed, inviting everyone “to hear the unforced rhythms of grace.” Bishop Bard expressed the hope that all could, like those pastors who shared their life-renewing pastimes, “wrap seriousness and playfulness and joy together.”  

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