By Tiffany Brown Seaford
General Assembly 2017 marks the midpoint for the third cohort of CBF Fellows. When that assessment was announced, a collective sigh of disappointment filled the room. For over a year now, 16 young ministers across CBF’s denomi-network have gathered to become better leaders for CBF’s future. In that time, they have found trust in new relationships, shared the raw moments of difficult days in ministry, and celebrated each other’s accomplishments. This week has been no different!
Our conversations this week have been set around the theme of context; the context of our church demographics, spiritual styles, giftedness and more. Though we each represent an entirely unique context, we have found community. At the conclusion of each session we participate in an activity called “the talking chair.” This activity provides space for us to create a specific learning goal and share that with our peers who hold us accountable.
In February, in conjunction with ChurchWorks, the collective talking chair goals were positive and encouraging. Just a few months later, as we gathered here in Atlanta, we realized how deflating life and ministry can often be. On Tuesday, as we went around the room, our goals echoed a theme of exhaustion and yearning. They included words like: “embrace,” “clarify”, “search,” and “dive deeper” that sought results like: “deep rest,” “inspiration, “sustenance,” and “beauty.” Our efforts in ministry are not passive, so as we find ourselves still, waiting for the quiet voice of God, we too must find ourselves still moving.
Upon sharing our goals we received a personal blessing. Each person’s name was called and the group responded “we bless you.” The majority received each blessing with pursed lips and nod of humble gratitude. With each moment of vulnerability we recognized how much we needed each other; peers who truly “got” it. That is to say nothing how we became ministers to our faculty.
This cohort of CBF Fellows has certainly felt the variations in the rhythms of life and ministry. But we are not hopeless. In fact, we are hopeful that in the weeks, months, and years to come we will find God ever-present and be encouraged by the community formed here.
Bo Prosser, one our faculty members and the MEI Grant Administrator and Catalytic Coach, said of us, “when they see you, they see hope.” That may be true, but lest we find ourselves vain, let us say how grateful we are to CBF for giving us hope.
As CBF supports and advocates for young ministers, they send a bold message to all of the Millennials and Digitals who have joined the CBF table; a bold message that tells each of us that no matter the context CBF finds themselves in, we are a risk and an investment they are willing to make!
Whether you are a Digital, Builder, or somewhere in between, may you find ways to be on the receiving end of a blessing. May you also find ways to hold your peers in a moment of vulnerability to pass on a blessing.
P.S. I imagine we aren’t the only ones feeling the deeper rhythms of ministry and finding ourselves craving community. Our suggestion, add these to your to-do list: 1) laugh 2) fun. We’re checking it off on ours!
Tiffany Brown Seaford serves as the Associate Pastor of First Baptist Church of Mocksville, N.C., and is a CBF Fellow.