At the annual national transition gathering for The Company of New Pastors at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, recent seminary graduates were encouraged to nurture their spiritual life by allowing scripture to form and shape them as they begin their pastoral vocation (some are still in the call process, others have already begun their first year of pastoral ministry).
"This transition event is one of our most significant because these recent graduates are in some of their most teachable moments," says Company of New Pastors program director Quinn Fox. "The shift from seminary to first call contains a real sense of anxiety for so many. This time together gives us the opportunity to reassure them of God's call, to remind them not to forget the voice they heard, and to reiterate the theological nature of their pastoral vocation as they make the transition from the culture of syllabus to the culture of session."
"One of the things that make a person teachable is fear," he says. "It comes in holy and unholy forms; both were present in the group."
Letts saw these recent graduates come to grips in new ways with a sense of call.
"To watch this holy fear come with energy and power to them in their humility, is a beautiful thing," he says.
Letts also saw a kind of courage emerge in his small group, as it worked through some of the normal angst that comes from not knowing what is next.
"Some of our best and brightest are asking 'Did I mishear God? Was I wrong?'" says Letts. "If you're alone when you ask those questions, it can be devastating. Being together allows recent graduates to continue to deepen their spiritual foundation for ministry during this time of transition."
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"The Company of New Pastors really speaks well for the church's General Assembly Mission Council," says Letts. "The Office of Theology and Worship saw this crisis for our graduates coming down the pike, and responded as quickly as possible to put an additional transition event in place to serve them."