The Indiana Annual Conference concluded two weeks ago Saturday. "Three Simple Rules for Social Media"-social media guidelines for Indiana United Methodists--was a handout given to clergy, lay delegates, and clergy spouses. The three rules are "Do No Harm," "Do Good," and "Stay in Love with God." Sound familiar? These are adapted from Wesley's rules for living. A description of each rule,as well as a set of questions to ask related to the rule,were listed.
I am aware of difficulties that Facebook can bring with pastors posting comments or opinions that are inappropriate. But I am a member of Facebook because there is a private link to Indiana clergy spouses available only through Facebook. I never post anything, but often offer comments. I have noticed over the past six weeks that clergy spouses are posting almost daily about the challenges of moving. Now appointments in Indiana begin July 1, so as you can guess, families are busy getting ready.
I have read the full range of emotions related to relocation. Many express anxiety and fear. The logistics of packing, especially with young children, is a popular topic. Sadness about leaving a beloved congregation, reluctance to start over, making new friends--all of the concerns that were prevalent thirty-seven years ago when my husband started ministry, are still relevant today.
However, one of the opportunities that Facebook allows, is to give others a chance to respond. I have read words of love and encouragement, prayers offered, shared experiences with positive results, and many others. Facebook postings allow others to share in the experience that others are having. I have also noted spouses offering to connect with other spouses who are moving into the same district even before the move occurs. Facebook can break-down some of the isolation and anxiety that has characterized moving. I read animated and loving comments--sometimes eight or nine or ten responses of encouragement or comments to one posting.
I am thankful for the way Facebook is allowing clergy spouses in the Indiana Conference--and perhaps others too--to feel connected and supported by other spouses who may or may not be moving in ways not possible years ago.
Prayer: Thank you God for advances in communication that enable your people in ministry to express feelings, joys and concerns, as moving approaches; and for the opportunity these advances also offer for those of us who read their postings to respond with prayer and other means of support. We are connected in many ways, and social media opens new ways to be united in service.