Friends, we stand on the edge of the unknown. The official completion of our journey together as Companions in Ministry, in many ways, brings us to the end of the mapped world. Our next steps are into an uncharted and uncertain frontier. How can we find our way through this wilderness?
Thank God we have an inner compass, an internal north star that will guide us.
We will never venture far off course if we follow the Spirit. The Spirit will always lead us into greater life, and an increase of justice, mercy and humility.
And as we follow the Spirit, the churches we lead will march with us and maybe before us into the greater Kingdom of God.
Our charge, paraphrased from 1 Peter 5:1-4:
Now, as a pastor among you And one who can testify to the crucified love of Christ, as well as the glory of the resurrected Christ, I exhort you, my fellow pastors, to companion the flock of God that is in your charge.
Exercise this authority not because you have to, but because you want to; not to get, but to give away. This would please God. Companion your flock, not by being an expert, but by being an example.
And when the chief Shepherd, the best Companion appears you will win, not earn, the crown of glory that can never be taken away.
Let’s choose life. Let’s journey with the Spirit. Amen.
Address delivered at closing service of Companions in Ministry in 2007 by Debby Bellingham. Companions in Ministry was a two year experiment in allowing clergy to gather quarterly for encouragement and education hoping to stave off clergy burnout.