A year ago today I made my way to Calvary Baptist Church, DC to participate in worship. A significant part of the worship service for me was my ordination to the Gospel Ministry. It is hard to believe it has been a year. A year since the faith community at Calvary affirmed the gifts, talents, and call they saw in me. A year since they laid hands upon me to offer blessings. A year since I took my vows. A year since I became the Reverend Morgan Caruthers. A year ago I anticipated the beginning of my work in my first placement in an ecumenical experience. What a year it has been, too.
In the past year I have clung to hope in ways I did not know I could. Hope in both my personal and professional realms of life. Within this past year I have had to learn how to settle into my pastoral identity in ways I could not have imagined. Throughout this first year I have trusted my call to this work and hoped to God the community at Calvary was not mistaken. I am sure I am not the only newly ordained minister to have these hopes of discerning and trusting the journey which led them to ordained life. This year has held those few precious moments when your skills, talents, and creativity fit beautifully with those you are serving alongside and something transformative is birthed. In those moments you experience how the Spirit of God created a marvelous symphony of lives coming together to play the music of the Gospel.
I have learned more about my calling and where I fit within the Big C and little c “church” as life has moved along in the past year. I have come to know just how Baptist I am (who knew?!) and how proud I am to be from this tradition, blemishes and all. Working within an ecumenical setting, being Baptist and working at an Episcopal church, I have experience the great joy of sharing between denominations. I am also experienced how hard it can be to do ecumenical work well, but how worthwhile it is to make the effort.
Boundaries and support systems have taken on a new role in my life. Together with my family we have learned how to share me with the church and my working on Sundays. Being single I have realized the importance of protecting and respecting the life I am building. Sharing in conversations with my family about how they may not share me with a spouse’s family but how they do share me with the church I work with, the relationships I am building in Austin, and my rhythm of life. Living out the importance of taking time off to celebrate in my friends’ lives. I am thankful to have a family and support system who have shared this past year with me. They have loved me beautifully, more than I could have asked for.
I suspect I will continue to cling to hope in the years to come the way I have clung to it this year. Hope which took me from day to day when life was in difficult transition, as life can do at times. Hope that provided me creative outlets for being a sound pastor to my students. A hope in God’s work in the present to help me plant my feet a bit deeper each day of this past year. It was hope in the movement of the Spirit to guide me in the life of this student ministry, life in Austin, life in where the future might go.
For an extroverted person like myself I have become more quiet this past year. A year of wanting to use my words more purposefully. A year wanting to find a place for my voice. A year of learning to speak in a new denomination’s language. A year of wanting to share my experiences in writing but not sure how or to what purpose to share. It has been a year of learning my extroverted self in softened tones. Growing as my extroverted self while learning to appreciate my introverted sides as well.
A year ago June 16 I moved to Austin, Texas after seven years in Waco. A year ago June 18 I began working at Good Shepherd. A year ago yesterday the first Bear & Hymn Sing was held at Amy’s house and Treyson performed. A year ago today I was ordained to the Gospel Ministry. It has been a year of transition. I have described this past year to friends as though it is as if I am standing in the ocean right within the shoreline, with each movement of the tide the loose sand beneath my feet moves and places new sand and water under and around my feet. No matter how much the loose sand moves the foundation which I sand on is strong, keeping me balanced for the next movement of the tide.
I am thankful to have a solid foundation created by family, friends, and self – the mainstay to each of these threads in the tapestry of life being the transformative love of the Spirit.
To all who have journeyed with me this past year, thank you. Thank you for sharing in laughter, joy, tears, frustration, hope, creativity, and love. I have journeyed further in settling into my identity as the Beloved this past year and I give great thanks for that reality. Thanks be to God for the great gift of the year past and the year to come.
Today I recall my ordination vows and affirm them once again, with the the help of God & those in this faith community.
A few photos from July 7 & 8, 2012.