Thank you for Trinity’s support of the sabbatical experience of rest and renewal for our staff. It is much needed time for reflection, prayer, rest, and renewal in the life of a ministry leader. Sabbatical time helps us to recharge and refocus as we serve God, the people of Trinity, and those in the world around us.
This was my second sabbatical experience in my ministry time here. The first one was filled with relocating my mom from Nebraska and several big trips. This time my focus was to slow down, stay closer to home, and reconnect with family and friends. Slowing down offered much needed time to dig deeper into my personal faith life and discover where God is leading me in these next chapters of life and ministry. I was able to enjoy different worship experiences, from large churches to a house church experience, and to see how places ministered to children and families as well.
While on sabbatical, I still served with the Mission Community Food Pantry. Kerry Barker and I took over as co-directors of the pantry following the passing of Suzie Gibbs in late April. I did not feel I could step away from the pantry for the length of the sabbatical. I also served the LCMS Kansas District as a planning team member for the Educator’s Conference held in Manhattan in October. This was my last year of a two-year obligation, and I felt it was important to fulfill my responsibilities to that team.
As I began this sabbatical, I entered into this time with an underlying desire to look for ways to merge ministry to children and families, the Mission Community Food Pantry, and community outreach together for both Mission and Shawnee. What did that look like? How does it work in two different environments and communities? Are these communities really that different when you look deeper? What are the needs of children and families in their faith growth, but what other needs must we meet for their physical, and mental wellbeing?
I was not sure where this would lead me but trusted that God would show me where He was at work and where He desires me to follow. I believe He began to do just that through my experiences with a ministry in Lincoln, Nebraska, called the Food Fort. This ministry provides not only food for local families but homework help, educational guidance, and mentoring to those they serve. The Food Fort bus, and Tree Trop Trailer, go weekly into three different school neighborhoods forming relationships with those who come. They provide an evening meal which families can eat there or take home, they provide a safe place for those who come to receive help with school lessons, and they provide fellowship and encouragement to parents. It is through these relationships that other ministry needs become known and support can be given.
I was able to experience this ministry firsthand and explore how this could work at Trinity. It would be an amazing opportunity to connect our members to be the hands and feet of Jesus to serve our local communities in both Mission and Shawnee. I also envision it possibly opening doors into other ways we could serve – VBS, sidewalk Sunday School, small groups, community events, etc. I also feel there may be a pantry connection with this as well. This is no small endeavor and will take planning and discernment to see what God has in store.
Once again, I thank you for supporting the sabbatical experience for our staff at Trinity. It is an experience that allows us to step away from the everyday hustle and bustle of ministry and reconnect with God on a deeper level. It also gives us an opportunity to spend time with family and friends who often are neglected as we work to meet ministry obligations. Lastly, it offers time for reflection of our ministries, to discern where God is leading for the future, and to give thanks to God for all he has done in and among us at Trinity. It is an honor, and a blessing, to be able to serve people of all ages at Trinity and I have been truly blessed by all of you.
Children Family Minister