by Stephanie Dueck
I now have four days left in Vineland. Where did the time go? The three months I have spent with you have gone by so fast! It has been a rich three months. I have experienced so much and learned a great many things.
You may wonder what brought me here… Why do a pastoral internship? Why be a pastor? Well, it happened like this: I was fairly involved with chapel and worship planning for part of my time at Canadian Mennonite University, and people started encouraging me to pursue directions in church work.
I had one particular professor who became a very good mentor. She often encouraged me to do a pastoral internship and ‘just try it out.’ I was very reluctant. First, I was reluctant because I was not sure I had the gifts for ministry. Second, I was reluctant because of my fear of nasty church politics which I have seen and heard too much of.
I did finally decide that it wouldn’t hurt to at least try it out. So here I am, and here I have been for the last three months. I have learned a lot from preparing sermons, from worship leading, visitation and preparing for funerals. I have discovered in part what it is like to be a pastor. I have done what a pastor does, and I have walked alongside Carol Penner who is experienced in pastoral ministry. Carol and I have talked lots and lots about what it means to be a pastor and that has been very meaningful for me.
So what is the verdict? Why be a pastor? Do I want to be a pastor? One question I had in my reluctance to go into pastoral work was, “who am I to think I can guide people, teach them, comfort them, love and inspire them?” I have discovered that no, I certainly could not do all of that on my own, but yes, I could do that with God. If I think about doing this work with God, it is much less overwhelming, and more life-giving. How so? Well, as a pastor you get to share good news with people every week! You get to be with people in significant moments of life: birth, baptism, wedding and funeral. You get to work a lot with people as a pastor, but you also spend time in solitude and prayer. As a pastor spending time in spiritual practices, steeping yourself in scripture, and reading about faith issues is all part of the work!
Pastoral work, when done with God, is life-giving. I have for example, felt God’s peace sweep over me as I worship lead, and I have found joy in getting to know you and talking about life and about God. Maybe pastoral work isn’t such a bad idea!
So where to now? In September I will be studying at Conrad Grebel in Waterloo, working toward a masters in theological studies. I will continue to discern whether I am called to the work of pastoral ministry, and maybe I will stop by now and again to visit the first Mennonite church in Canada.