The Joy of Supportive Colleagues
by the Rev. Dr. David E. Imhoff, President
I have been blessed to serve in a variety of ministry contexts all over the country. Large suburban parish, inner city parishes, campus ministry, hospital chaplaincy, small parishes, and now a midsized parish. In many of these situations I had multiple staff to work with and some of them were a tremendous gift to me and my ministry. But through it all the real joy came for me in ministering ecumenically and gaining insights I would never had enjoyed.
I think it is true that what I just stated will fall on deaf ears to those who can’t count that as their blessing as well. Not all clergy want the accountability that goes with the territory nor the vulnerability. But to those of you who know what I am talking about, welcome to the APC.
Church growth is not automatic these days as it was in the 50’s and 60’s. Deacons and elders and board members are not as loyal to the clergy as they were in the 70’s and 80’s. Young people today see the church as irrelevant and so do their parents. Money is tight and mission and staff are the easy targets. Denominational infighting leaves some of us sick in the stomach. Even spirituality, which once replaced being involved with a faith community, is waning. Who better than the APC colleagues understand this? Who better than those who work across the denominational divide understand this?
APC has a unique position within the whole church to speak to these issues, resonate with them, and support clergy struggling. Yet APC also speaks to those who feel joy about their ministry, who feel success within their ministry because of the mission being accomplished and the lay folks who can taste the joy also. APC colleagues serving in parish situations that appear to be genuinely faithful and electric also are supported by what APC has to offer.
In February we will be joining with Martin Marty in Orlando and he will give us his insight into what makes for authentic clergy. How do they ethically carry out their calling? Since Marty has a keen eye for all the history I laid out in this epistle, he will be a perfect person for collegial clergy to sit with and dialogue with for support. So that is what APC means to me and many others. Explore our web site to see the particulars of our ministry and see what you can benefit from and add to as you join with us. We always encourage articles for our Journal that relate your view and experience of ministry.