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Transitions and Liminal Spaces

A few years ago, I said yes to a new path - from simply being a leader of my church to following a path towards ordination - a path that I have not been able to fully realize yet, but continue to move forward on. An Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church agrees to an itinerate lifestyle - this means, we do not stay at one church forever, but rather, move from church to church, using our gifts and going where God calls us. Licensed Local Pastors can also be itinerate, but it always seems that this happens less often. Our appointments are technically only 1 year in length, and each year, we can be reaffirmed in the appointment we are in, or we can be called somewhere else. I have been told the average United Methodist Pastor stays at their appointment for 3-6 years, but I have known some to stay far longer - 10 years, 15 years, even 20+ years. It is not common, but it happens.

Two years ago, I started making room in my mind and heart for the eventuality of a new appointment where I would need to move my physical location. I have been in a pastoral role - first as a Lay Supply then as a Certified Lay Minister and finally, as a Licensed Local Pastor, since 2016. This year marks 7 years in this assignment/appointment. And this year, I have been called to lead another church.

It came out of the blue, and the location I can only see as a God thing, closer to family (same town as my brother, actually). The new church and my current church have similarities as well - while one is bigger than the other, they both have ministries for the unhoused, are reconciling churches, and have vibrant children's ministries. When I had my introduction meeting, it solidified my call to move.

But change is hard. I have received the utmost support from my current church, and the church I will be going to - and at the same time, many well meaning folk have unintentionally slammed me with anxiety and worry over what is to come - so much so that I find myself doubting my decision to say yes. This move is huge - for me, for my church, for my family. For so many years, my identity has been here. Imposter syndrome steps in - what if I can't hack it? What if I'm only good enough here?

When the sun peaks through the clouds of anxiety, I see the lighted path I am meant for. God doesn't call the prepared, but we are called just the same. This liminal space of transition will ebb and flow. There will be days of excitement, some of worry; some laced with understanding and some with new knowledge yet to come. Letting go is a necessary part of the journey, and space will be needed along the way. Today, I can say I look forward to that space. Tomorrow I may not be able to say the same. I know no matter what, I am not alone in the process.

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