I spend each Tuesday volunteering as a chaplain at one of the Indiana University Hospitals fairly close to my house. Today I was walking through the lobby and saw one of Mike's (my husband)former district superintendents, Paul, and his wife, Mary. I was so glad to see them. They are getting close to eighty, but remain active in church, community, and family interests.
Paul was Mike's superintendent from 1981-1983. We brought them a meal when they moved. We were in their house numerous times for dinner, along with other clergy and their spouses. Paul and Mary came to our house too. Our friendship with them was close, like family. Paul mentored Mike and the other pastors in the district. Mary mentored spouses with warmth, and genuine care. We were so blessed to be in their district.
I wish clergy/spouses young in ministry could be mentored the way Paul and Mary did for us. They were integral parts of our growth in self, in God, and in ministry. My heart aches when I listen to spouses who have no one to walk alongside in close and meaningful ways. Our districts are so large now, geographically, that there are assistant district superintendents who help the district superintendent. Administrative tasks have increased. Ministry is so much more complex than in the early eighties.
The gracious hospitality that Mike and I received from district superintendents and their spouses the first twenty years in ministry was such a grounding for the future.
How do other conferences nurture clergy/spouses young in ministry?