Celebrating Ministry Milestones // M-Note 6.7.24

This weekend is the Missouri Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (I know, we have a lot of conferences). This is a yearly gathering of all pastors and lay representatives from each of the roughly 600 UMC churches in Missouri. It is a time of worship, learning, conversation, visioning, and celebration. Among those celebrations are two important milestones for staff at The Gathering.
First, Brittany Radford will be recognized as a certified candidate for ministry and appointed as a licensed local pastor at The Gathering. Brittany is already on our staff as the McCausland Site Director but this change will mean that she will be part of the pastoral team at McCausland. She will be able to offer communion, do baptisms, officiate at weddings, and conduct funerals. This is a step towards the goal of being fully ordained as a pastor in the UMC. Brittany will be recognized Saturday morning during the conference and begin in this new role in July. She also will be starting seminary this fall. When you see her Sunday morning, make sure to congratulate her.  
Secondly, Ryan Hebel will be ordained as a deacon in full connection on Sunday. This is the final step in the ordination process. Deacons are ordained to preach, offer sacraments, and to serve in a distinct way in the church. Usually deacons have a specialized ministry and for Ryan, this will continue to be leading the music and worship life of our church. Ryan will continue in that role and also be able to do communion, baptisms, weddings and funerals. This is the final step in a long journey for Ryan so please congratulate him as well.
These moments are a big deal for Brittany and Ryan. But they are also a big deal for The Gathering. We are a church that God is using to call new people into ministry. We are a community where new leaders are continually emerging. That is exciting and a sign of a church that is vital and alive.
I am so proud of Brittany and Ryan. I am also proud of all of you that sense a nudge to serve and some way and follow it. If you are a person that has been sensing a call to ministry but haven’t done anything with it, maybe now is the time. Reach out to me or your site pastor and we would be happy to talk with you about what God is doing in your life.
This weekend I will be starting a new series called Why Do We Do That? Each week I will take a familiar part of our worship and talk about the history, purpose, and relevance of that practice for our faith life today. It will be a fun way to better understand the parts of worship that you do each week. It is also an excellent time to invite a new person who may think worship is a bit weird or doesn’t make a lot of sense. Invite someone to join you this weekend.
Have a great Friday, and I will see you in worship.

P.S. We have an incredible opportunity coming up this fall. We’re putting together a Gathering cohort to participate in the YWCA Witnessing Whiteness program. These groups are for adults (18+), who identify as white, to come together to uncover and explore the impact of our white racial identity and the operation of racism in our lives and communities using the book, Witnessing Whiteness: The Journey into Racial Awareness and Antiracist Action by Shelly Tochluk. The group will meet on Tuesday evenings at the McCausland Site August 20 - December 10, with a few breaks built in. Jess and I participated in a cohort a few years ago, and many of our staff have participated in the past or are currently in a group meeting at our office. I can personally attest that it is a humbling, powerful, and eye-opening experience, and I hope you’ll consider joining The Gathering’s cohort this fall. Sign up here or contact Ashley Pondoff at ashley.pondoff@gatheringnow.org with questions.
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