Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Today I met Joe....

Today I began to claim my pastoral identity. I spent the entire afternoon visiting members of the congregation in their homes, and doing this made me feel completely alive. This is not to say that all of it was happy and wonderful, though. When I left one particularly run-down nursing home, I had to swallow hard to keep from crying. There were so many people who were lonely and in need. But Rev. Mark Fentress worked hard to remind me that while we can’t change every situation or keep people from feeling lonely, it is our job to go and visit and bring God’s love to the people.

Meeting Joe was the high point. Joe is a widow of about 85 years old, who still lives independently. I could tell from the minute I stepped into his foyer that he was excited to have a young person come visiting. We chatted and shared bits and pieces about our families. He showed me pictures of his wife and even pulled out the program from when he played football at the University of Alabama. We connected and enjoyed each other greatly. Finally, when it was about time for me to leave, Joe got a serious look on his face and asked, “Well, young lady, when are you going to be preaching?” I told him in a week or so, and he handed me a pen and asked me to write down the details. “I’m going to come and hear what you have to say,” he declared.

How affirming! While some of the Duke interns have no fear of preaching, I must share that I am a bit intimidated. While I trust God to work through me, I also realize that my preparation and insight will play a big part. To hear that someone like Joe is excited to hear a young person (and even a woman!) preach, reminds me of how important and exciting my task is.

I return to my sermon writing with a renewed vigor. While I understand that Joe rarely, if ever, makes it to church, I will write with him in mind. And I just might call Joe and ask if he needs a ride to church on the morning I preach.

To have the opportunity to share hope and God’s love, whether through visitations or preaching, is a wonderful blessing.
I feel blessed that God has called me to spend my entire life doing these things.

dinner and kids

A couple of things:

1. It's not so much that I am bored (I have plenty to do and plenty to read), but I'm a little confused as to why the mass of promised invitations to dinner have yet to materialize. On the first day practically everyone I met promised that they would have me over, but so far I haven't gotten any invitations (aside from the people I live with). Hmm. Time is ticking, eh? I suppose I could do the sneaky thing that bad pastors do and slip it in a prayer somewhere, [begin Brother Maynard voice from Holy Grail] "Almighty God, we give thanks to thee for all the people who have issued preliminary invitations to thy servant, knowing in thy mercy that thou shalt remind them of the fruits of bearing false witness..."

2. This week's task is childish--err, for children? Do you have to be childish to do a children's sermon? Anyway, I have to start doing children's sermons, and I also have to get ready to teach the 5th graders at VBS in a couple of weeks. I've never done a children's sermon, and I haven't really seen them done in the last couple of decades, so I'm starting from the model that Matt (the pastor) has given the past couple of weeks. This week is odd--there's a guest musical group and we're honoring the graduates, so there's no sermon, but there is Communion. Right now I'm thinking I'll talk to the kids about Communion. If I were exceptionally bold (and I'm not) I would find a way to tell them about Athanasius, but as it stands I'll be lucky to get in even the weakest form of "you are what you eat."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

something stinks

Something stinks in our garage. We think we know what it is – but we have yet to clean it up. You see – about six months ago (don’t judge me) I let the kids play with flour in the drive way. We were out of the play sand and it seemed like a fun idea at the time. Flour is food. Food spoils. A while back I figured out that some of the flour had been mixed with water and turned into a paste and that that paste had spoiled somewhere in the bowels of what is the toy section of our messy garage.

Okay – so to the point of this blog…where is God in my stinky garage? I am not so sure – but I do see in myself a need for a kind of spiritual discipline where I am able to be both a student of theology – as well as a mom who cleans her garage once in a while. And for those of you who know me, even a little, you know I would rather write a paper, or teach a bible study than clean anything.

There is a need for balance in life…and when you are out of balance, things can begin to stink.

I have been gone from home for a lot of wonder-filled hours today…talking to people, meeting new people, eating dinner at Anathoth and now I need to go snuggle kids, say prayers, and sing songs.

I have a lot to learn about balance. But for tonight, I am going to do bedtime, and then go have a pretend date with my husband and watch a movie. Maybe I will get to the garage tomorrow.

Monday, May 28, 2007


Sunday was a pretty busy day considering it is a holiday weekend and many people were at the beach. The sanctuary was not as full as last week’s homing service – but it was easy enough to get the people to circle the room for “We are the Church.” The children played the wind and fire of Pentecost and enjoyed running into the sanctuary waving colored paper to represent wind and flame. I helped with prayers and litany – although in spite of knowing better, I stilled managed to “squash people” (gesturing for people to sit rather than inviting them to sit) when I asked people to be seated…everything takes practice I guess. The sermon was about the need to feel the intensity of the presence of the Holy Spirit – proclaiming out loud what for me is an urgent need to become a pastor – to share the good news of God and Church. I want to be good at it right now…but I am learning that the most important thing I need to be able to do is move aside and let God do the work. Be present but transparent. If I don’t learn how to do that – then I am likely to spend the next thirty years “squashing people” instead of letting God lift them up!

This week has been interesting as I shadowed Grace attending meetings and visiting many of the people in the community. One particular visit stands out from the week – a lady in a near by nursing home who will turn 91 today. She has severe osteoporosis and is unable to move very much. She is depressed at the prospects of not being able to leave the nursing home. She was under the impression her hip was out of joint and that once she had recovered she could go back home. She has been living with her younger brother for the last several years (he is in his late seventies) and she thought she would be going home once her hip was better. When Grace and I came to see her – she was obviously in pain. It was clear to her that she was not getting better.
We also visited the home of a family grieving the loss of their husband and father. At 55, he was too young to die. There was a lot of suffering going around. Grace lived up to her name and her appointment, being both present yet transparent for those in need. She was able to chat and comfort. Her presence was very much larger than herself as God filled the spaces and grieved with those suffering loss.

I know it takes practice and discipline to be able to let God fill a space through your presence and words. How beautiful the hands and feet. I saw God in the faces of a grieving widow, and a dying saint and in the hands of a pastor.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

what a great start....

My first week as an intern at Bethany UMC in Summerville, SC has drawn to a close I can honestly say that I have done and seen more than I ever could have imagined in 7 short days. They say that a pastor participates in all aspects of life from baptism, to confirmation, to marriage, and then onto burial. After tomorrow, I will have observed and participated in all of these occasions. While things will not always be as busy as they were this week, I was glad to have the opportunity to dive in with both feet.

My supervising pastor, Rev. Bob Howell, has been kind enough to allow me to shadow him in all that he does. Rather than working on any one thing in particular, I spent this week observing and learning. I have truly begun to gain a sense of what the senior pastor of a large congregation does. We have had many thought-provoking conversations. I am asking lots of questions and receiving good answers based in a lifetime of experience.

Coming into this summer, I hoped and prayed that this experience would be my chance to claim my pastoral identity. I now feel certain that Bethany will provide me with the perfect opportunity to do this. I will preach my first sermon (and second and third and fourth….) here. I will have a diverse group of mentors to look up to and from whom I will receive feedback. I will do everything that a pastor does, and these responsibilities are already making me feel completely alive.

As we celebrate Pentecost, I can feel the Holy Spirit descending upon me and the people I am working with. I can already tell that this will be a life-changing summer.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

the sectarian thing

I'm a little hesitant to post again already, having not heard from several of our bloggers, and being a little worried that you might think I'm sitting around all day on my computer. (But hey, even busy little interns like me have to make sure they have time to, say, watch Lost.)

I've gotten to sit in on several meetings in the past few days, including the board meeting for the local Communities in Schools initiative as well as, today, the relatively new West Davidson Ministers Association which runs a food program for impoverished children.

This morning we had an interesting question about how pastors should deal with community events (e.g., little league) schedule on Sunday morning. I won't divulge exactly how this group is handling it, but there is a spectrum of responses, from angrily demanding that the organizations cease their use of that time, to complete indifference.

My first reaction, the one steeped in Hauerwas (etc.), is, why are we surprised that something conflicts with church? Being in the rural South, it's easy to forget that the church cannot be totally identified with the community. My second reaction, a more pastoral reaction (but one that might be abrasive nonetheless), is to ask what we are doing wrong in our churches if our own members think of Sunday morning as just one activity among many. That is not a problem that you solve by making angry demands or denouncements. It is a culture that has to be taught and practiced over many years. Our job is not to change the way the local baseball team schedules its games, but to form Christian disciples.

Anyone? What sort of response could you envision? It's also interesting to me that rural communities like Davidson county are confronting this issue that many urban parishes have taken for granted.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hello from Memphis, TN!

So it's been interesting reading everyone else's stories and hearing about how the first week is going for y'all! I attended church with my field supervisor on Sunday and had my first official day at the Church Health Center on Monday. Its sanctuaries are the clinic exam rooms and waiting rooms or the Hope and Healing Center's exercise rooms and cooking classrooms. It's been amazing to observe and participate in some of the many ministries this week. I'll tell you more about them later...

My supervisor and I pondered for some time about what my title on my nametag should be. Though they've had numerous interns work in the clinic, dispensary, public relations, physical therapy, and health promotion, this is the first time that they have hosted a seminary student. I'm going to be working in many different areas of the agency, and while everyone seems to be excited that I am here, it's clear that most folks are not quite sure what my role should be. With my interests and vocational discernment, I've never really fit into nice, neat categories, so this is pretty familiar territory.

We finally decided on Ministerial Resident. What do y'all think?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Down a Country Road

Sunday morning was a whirlwind of new faces and experiences. I got up early and drove the thirty-minute drive from my house to Sandy Plains Church for the first time. In my CD player, M. Ward played some soothing rural-sounding music, and it was early, so the sun was casting its warm rays against the sweet-corn fields and old tobacco barns that line the roads to Sandy Plains. There are signs of the culture, too: feathers, dream-catchers, and the like were common among the cars I passed, and I crossed over the Lumber River several times along the way. Small businesses along the way also give some indication of the culture in the area—there’s the Lost Colony Trading Post, for one, and signs for Lowry’s Luxury Suites, Bear Swamp Baptist Church, and an old sign for The Law Offices of Locklear, Jacobs, Hunt, and Brooks.

Sandy Plains Church lies just north of Pembroke, NC, and is in the heart of “Lumbee Country.” Most everyone who lives in the area is a member of the Lumbee tribe. I already know that much of this summer will be spent learning about the Lumbee, and about those specific people who call themselves members of Sandy Plains. Historians believe the Lumbee to be descendents of the Hatteras and Sir Walter Raleigh’s “Lost Colony” of 1587. Others think that the Lumbee descended from the eastern Souix, and some see the Lumbee as an amalgam of races.

On the way out to Sandy Plains, I couldn’t help but notice the land, and connect—in my own mind—the Lumbee people to the land in an intimate way. What was a hunch on the drive over has borne out into reality—a little historical research confirmed my suspicions. As the Scots settled the area in the early 1700s, the Lumbee saw that it was necessary to divide up the land and seek official deeds to property that had been cultivated and collectively owned for many years. The names on these deeds are still prominent in the community surrounding Sandy Plains: Locklear, Oxendine, Bell, Cumbo, Hunt, Chavis, Brooks, Jacobs, and Lowry are some of them. Often, a Lumbee is reluctant to part with his or her land; land seems to stay in a particular family for years. As Joseph Michael Smith writes, “no one who really knows the Lumbee people can deny their attachment to the land, their religiousness, nor dismiss the sense of community.” As this week has so quickly passed me by, I've noticed evidence of this strong community bond among the members of Sandy Plains UMC.

Ownership of the land is connected to its natural resources—those early land deeds were marked in relation to the Lumber River, and area swamps, like Bear Swamp. These provided protection, fertile soil, and abundant plant and animal life in the area, and still do. I’ve already met several people who live on land that has "been in the family" for generations. I would guess that members of Sandy Plains are farmers, and many have parents who were farmers--it seems that everyone speaks so naturally about the land.

As I’m getting to know the people of Sandy Plains, I’m learning that they are indeed connected to the land. I am anxious to talk to others here at Sandy Plains—to ask about their individual connections to the land, how it speaks to them—how they speak to it. For the moment, though, I’m content to thank the Creator for the blessings given to us in the rich soil and water still present in our surroundings, for those drives through the country where one feels at one with the earth, and for an introduction to a community pregnant with possibility for learning about ministry.
I see the old, old trees;
and for my people
the woods, the river
and the open fields
are all alive
I live with them
and in their spirit.

I know how to speak to the land
and how to listen
to what it tells me.

I take no more
than what I need from it,
and keep its secrets to myself
because I know,
it will never betray
the heart that loves it.

--“Land of the Lumbee”
by Barbara Brayboy-Locklear

Monday, May 21, 2007

Hello, Lexington

the welcome sign

You may have to click and look closely, but yes, they put my name on the little sign in front of the church. And by the way among the other unnamed "guests" was the Bishop.

A few thoughts on the first two days:
  • I moved in Saturday night, and Sunday morning I showed up for worship and afterwards got to eat a magnificent meal, with fried chicken, countless vegetables, casseroles, and dessert, and of course plenty of sweet tea. I have no idea how I will remember all of the names. No idea. I'm hopeless. The people have been lovely.
  • Bishop McCleskey of the Western North Carolina Conference (UMC) preached a great sermon. It tickled my Anglican ears because it was about the way repetition in prayer and worship gives us a kind of deep memory that we often don't even know we have.
  • I think I will survive with the whole worship-band thing and non-weekly communion. I still think of myself as a sort of "young fogey," but that doesn't mean that I can't respect the place I'm in and find Christ in it.
  • I really like being out in the country, even if I sometimes feel out of place.

sweet tea and promises

Sweet Tea and promises. That is how I would describe my first day. There was a lot of sweet tea flowing at Cedar Grove UMC as generations gathered for homecoming Sunday. It was a big event. There were muffins in the morning, a worship service with the DS preaching, and then Sunday dinner in the fellowship hall. There were old ladies holding babies (the youngest yesterday was two weeks old, born to a woman who grew up in the church – her husband was a transplant from Efland UMC a few miles down the road). There was singing in the sanctuary – hymns to tell the old, old Story – and general chit-chat and catching up. One lady I spoke to told me “You don’t have to remember my name, I am from New York. I grew up here and always come for homecoming Sunday.” The men talked about the weather, and how badly we already need the rain. They teased each other in front of me about who is in charge of the church; though I am sure they are all a part of what keeps that church humming.

I went to Duke a couple of hours after homecoming to share a meal and witness the signing of the covenant between the Annual Conferences in North Carolina, the div school, and the Duke Endowment – but more importantly – the pastors of the rural churches involved in the Thriving Rural Communities program.

Many people had come a far piece on a Sunday afternoon after leading worship and taking care of their people. It was a testament to their desire for their church and their ministries to go beyond themselves. The commitment to the program is really a commitment to continue to do the things that these churches and pastors have been doing already – but now they will be doing these things together. How Methodist! We ate a meal together – there was more sweet tea. And then we went to worship where the groups gathered re-committed to serve God – but not as an island. These pastors agreed to join together to make a difference together in rural North Carolina. To be in relationship with one another and with a school dedicated to bringing up new generations of pastors committed to the same goal…spreading the good news about the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God to everyone – even to the least of eastern and western NC.

I thought about the older lady at church that morning walking around with a two week old baby, showing her off to all the people gathered for homecoming. The young man from the congregation who came to the event last night sat and talked to me before and after dinner. Converted two years ago (his words), he sees God at work in his life (lost a job Tuesday morning, got a new job at church’s Wednesday night supper! “Can you imagine that?!” he said shaking his head). He told me about the religion classes he takes to know more about God and Church. He described teaching a friend about why children are welcome in worship at his church. His wife was running the church office when I had arrived at work, and his son was the disheveled acolyte for the morning’s service. “My son is the stand in acolyte because, they know he will always be there.” This church has changed the course of his life and the life of his young family.

Those are the people who will be touched by the commitment made by those pastors last night. The people who grew up and live out their lives in rural NC know God will not abandon them. They know God and they love each other. But they need to have assurance that their church will not abandon them. They need resources and holy space to cultivate and grow in God’s love. As mills close and cash crops change, the United Methodist Church has just committed to not only stay in rural NC but also to be a presence on a scale that is larger and more connected than ever before. As Charles Wesley said:

Come, let us use the grace divine, and all with one accord,in a perpetual
covenant join ourselves to Christ the Lord;Give up ourselves, thru Jesus' power,
his name to glorify;and promise, in this sacred hour, for God to live and die.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

In Search of Meaning!

I arrived in Indianapolis last week Saturday to begin Field Ed. My first week at work has revealed some of the many tensions that I will have to wrestle with this summer. In any given day, I could go from feeding and dining with people in a state of virtual penury to being in a meeting and dining with pastors from some of the largest congregations (what sociologists term “civil congregations”) in the city of Indianapolis. I could go from singing with seniors (pretending to know “old-timers”), having a deep conversation with seniors about Western propaganda to a meeting with the youth minister on effective ways to reach this generation. I could also find myself in the “neighborhood” in one minute, but in the next, find myself in an area where king-sized mansions forces one to gasp, “Wow! Now that was impressive! Very impressive!” – Quoting from a TV commercial.
The desire to find meaning in the midst of such tensions is the unending task of all human beings (an even more daunting task for a second year divinity school student). The obsession with “meaning” brings to mind many unanswerable questions that will be continually raised this summer. The questions raised are endless, so much so that one despairs of an answer and feels that instead of asking “why,” it would be more beneficial to concentrate on the “what can I do next.”
More and more, I am beginning to accept these questions not simply as ideas or opinions occurring suddenly in the mind, nor as passive reflections, but as a response directed toward God as its satisfying object. As a response, then, such reflections cannot be lifeless; rather, it must seek to do fruitful labor. The hope is that the search to find meaning would not be separable from actually “getting my hands dirty.” Who knows, maybe some (or most) of the answers might come from being out on the field; not in the locker room! Is that why it is called Field Education?

Friday, May 18, 2007

On the road...

This is an appropriate location to post my first blog for this summer: I am in the middle of a 19 hour journey from Durham, NC to The Woodlands, TX, sitting in a hotel room near Biloxi, Mississippi. So what are my thoughts? What do I feel about embarking upon this experience? To say the least, I am excited. I get to stop studying about the church and start being the church. However, there is a slight bit of apprehension. It does not stem from being nervous about my ability to preach, or my knowledge of the church. Rather, my apprehension stems from the responsibility that comes from being someone’s “pastor”. I have never had that level of authority and a full year of Church History has made me respect such authority. Each person we studied this year attempted to relate God to a certain age. While studying such history is important, the unrelenting challenge that confronts me is that it is my job to relate God to this age and to the people. While I realize that the task might be too daunting for a student who has just finished his first year of divinity school, I feel a sense of grace in the process. God has sent the Holy Spirit to be with the church, helping it grow and learn; that same spirit will be with me this summer. And when the task is too great (as it inevitably will be) I will have people to help guide me, making sure that I neither think too little nor too much of myself or of my abilities. The truth of the matter is that God is the one who reveals himself to the church, my goal for this summer is to learn how to become a fitting conduit.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Travel-size deodorant? Check.
Sunscreen? Check.
Favorite Cds? Check.
Teva sandles? Check.
Passport? Check.
My frazzled, excited, sleep-deprived self? Check.

The above list doesn't even begin to show how many things I managed to squeeze into my poor 26" suitcase! In less than 12 hours, I'm hopping on a plane and I'm headed to the Middle East! That's right -- Jordan, Syria, Israel, Greece, and Egypt. Through the Middle East Travel Seminar (METS) (a travel venture jointly sponsored by Candler Theological Seminary, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Columbia Theological Seminary), I, along with approximately 40 other seminary students and laypersons, will travel to some of the most beautiful places on earth.

So now you're probably thinking, "Uuuumm....isn't this blog about Duke Divinity School summer field education?" And you're exactly right!

You see, as a participant in the METS program, I'll begin my summer field education placement -- at South Tryon Community Church in Charlotte, NC -- in June. That's three weeks later than normal. So before I travel to Charlotte and dive into the beauties, joys, pains, surprises, and blessings of parish ministry, I'll spend three and a half weeks trekking in the Middle East.

And isn't that just like God? To bring together two seemingly unrelated things (urban, parish ministry and the Sinai desert) and use them both, in conversation, for His glory? God is so good! I know that God has called me to both ventures -- the METS program and field-ed. However, my challenge -- my prayer -- is to discern how the two experiences are to come together. How do they feed one another? And how can I be open to that 'coming together?'

I'll return to this exciting online community upon my return from the Middle East -- and I'm so excited! Please pray for the safety, health, and openness of our group and for my continued sensitivity to Christ' beautiful voice.

Beginning With an End

This field education experience is off to an unusual start. Just before field ed orientation, I learned that a friend and spiritual mentor of mine had gone on to be with God. The Rev. Dr. Jerry Lowry was one of the most spiritually intuitive people I've ever met--he seemed to be able to see God in a godless situation, to be spiritually attuned to what kind of work God was doing in a particular context. As chance (or providence) would have it, I've been placed in a church where Jerry served as a pastor many years ago. Many members there knew and loved him, and some there were led to discover whatever God was calling them to do with their lives through Jerry's influence. The pastor at Sandy Plains UMC (which is where I'll be this summer) was close to Jerry- we share him as a spiritual mentor.

As I have been talking with this Pastor at Sandy Plains about hopes and plans for the summer, memories of Jerry keep coming up. Memories of his unique (and effective!) style of preaching, memories of his on-the-go nature, and how it seemed that caring for his "flock" just couldn't wait. At Jerry's funeral, one man shared how he knew that Jerry influenced many, many folks to consider ordained ministry.

With the help of my father, who was also at the service, I remembered afterwards one of the first times I met Jerry. I had been away at school, and had returned to go to church with my parents, where Jerry was pastoring at the time. Afterwards, on the breezeway outside of the sanctuary, he came up to me and exclaimed, "I've been looking for you!" Naturally, I was a little surprised, because I hadn't met this man before. He must not have noticed the expression on my face, or if he did, he didn't let on. He continued right along, and told me that he saw the Holy Spirit upon me during the service. I wanted to ask what it looked like, but thought better of it. He said that he could tell that I would be "going into the ministry." I had considered it before, but Jerry's statements caught me off guard. I didn't know this guy, and I didn't think that he knew me either. As it turns out, he--through some sort of God given insight--knew me better than I did at the time. Through much discernment and prayer, I finally did discern a call to ordained ministry. Jerry was right.

And now, here I am- I'll be preaching in the same pulpit he once graced, meeting some who were his mentors, and maybe--if I'm lucky--learn some of the same lessons he learned among the people of Sandy Plains United Methodist Church. Yes, indeed, this will be an interesting summer, begun with memories of a great mentor. Dear Jerry, may your blessings be upon it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

An Alb

Field Ed orientation is over – and I am meeting a friend this afternoon to go and pick out an alb. AN ALB. How weird is that? I have known all along I would need to get something along those lines eventually – and my supervisor said I could borrow one she lets the interns use – but that I might as well go ahead and get one of my own. So – here I go off to Cokesbury to buy one today. I guess I am as ready as I will ever be --- although honestly, I do not think that I will ever feel ready to go and do what I presume a pastor does (remember all those pages describing "pastor" in the UMC Book of Discipline Connie talked about?) I was thinking last night at dinner about all the videos they showed us and how very confident the students were as they remembered experiences from last summer. I hope I seem as confident – but I know that I don’t feel it. I remember thinking and feeling differently fifteen years ago when I moved to Thomasville for the summer to work as the student summer missionary at the Baptist Children’s Home. I was 21. It is amazing how little I remember about being in class and how little I remember about what I read for school – but I can remember the wall paper of the little apartment I stayed in that summer. I remember the faces and names of the kids I worked with, and I can remember all the little things that we did together that summer. It was the most important part of my college education. I don't have expectations that this summer will be the same kind of experience, but I do expect I will be changed. My dad still drives the little truck he bought me for college. I think I may ask to use it this summer. For old time's sake. It will not have all the stuff in it that college kids drive around in – but it will have an extra set of slacks and dress shoes for the hospital – a bible, boots for when I get to work in the garden, and oh yeah, I guess, an alb.

the cross-denominational thing

After the past two days I feel very good about my supervisor, and in a limited (because more ignorant) fashion, about my church this summer. I think it is not unreasonable to hope that if there are difficulties, they will at least not be at the level of simply getting along.

I am really excited about preaching, and about the people I'll get to meet, and about barbecue (Lexington likes to call itself the barbecue capital of the world). But I am a little antsy about how I as an Anglican with catholic beliefs will live in a low-church rural Methodist congregation. On one level, I grew up as a Baptist in Mississippi, so many things won't surprise me, but will they subtly annoy me?

I pray for grace, first of all, not to worry about what will happen or to overthink it. I don't want to pigeonhole this parish or my summer or God's work before field ed even begins. Secondly I need wisdom as to how to navigate those differences in theology and practice as they do arise. There is a good place between complete, unthinking assimilation into a new parish on the one hand, and detached, acontextual criticism on the other.