It began with a breakfast meeting with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Missouri coordinator, Harold Phillips. He had graciously agreed to be a part of my homework assignment from my recent intentional interim ministry training at Central Baptist Theological Seminary. I serve as Central’s director of seminary relations and am grateful for the partnership we have with the Center for Congregational Health, which provided the leadership for this training. I think Harold could see how impressed I was with the intentional interim ministry process. We talked for two hours, even though my overview was only supposed to last about thirty minutes! Of course, our conversation was not confined just to that topic. It bounced from the election party he is hosting tonight (I really wanted to go, but I am watching the results from the comfort of my couch, weary from the day’s demands), to the tattooed young woman who is doing a great job managing the locally owned restaurant where we were eating, to how Central and CBFMO can do more to partner, to the new women pastors of two CBFMO churches, to other former Baptist women ministers who have had to go outside Baptist circles to find a place to do ministry.
Finally, I left Harold to go cast my vote and make my way to the seminary. After canceling out my upstairs neighbor’s vote, I drove the forty miles I regularly travel and dove into my day at Central. I had planned the day’s chapel service and there were last minute details to handle. Tarris Rosell, Central’s professor of pastoral theology and a talented guitarist, and I skirted the voters in the entrance hall to make our way to the Baugh-Marshall Chapel to work out the plan for the Taizé choruses that would be interspersed with prayers and Bible readings. It felt like to me that prayer should be the focus for today’s chapel service.
In the midst of last-minute writing of my benediction, my colleague Richard P. Olson, distinguished professor of pastoral theology, brought me a sandwich. I wouldn’t have gotten lunch otherwise today! He’s a dear friend. I scarfed that down, had a conversation about the order for next week’s installation of Heather Entrekin as the Des Peres Chair of Congregational Health, and checked on the Thanksgiving cards we would be signing in an employee meeting later.
Chapel was a respite in the midst of this crazy day. As I said in my welcome, worship reminds us that ultimately the decisions being made today, although potentially life-changing, do not come close to the life-altering decision to follow Christ, the life-enhancing decision to listen to the Spirit’s leading, the decision for life in, with, and for God.
After chapel today it was time for the employee meeting and a celebration of a great report from our accreditation visit of the week before. God has put some amazing women leaders in my path. I’ve learned much from observing our president, Molly T. Marshall, and have been blessed by her encouragement in my own ministry life. I’m thrilled that her leadership has brought Central to such a time as this. Fittingly, our meeting today ended with expressions of gratitude for those who support the seminary as we distributed the Thanksgiving cards to be signed by faculty and staff.
I thought, finally, that I would get to spend time at my desk after finishing with my stack of cards. I needed to be working on a major project which has a due date this week, but it was not to be. I was pulled into a meeting to make final plans for next week’s faculty installation and carried away from that meeting more assignments.
The workday ended with not much more accomplished on that major task, but a reminder from a colleague that self-care is equally important. Now the evening has been taken up with writing and election-watching. I’m weary from the ministry demands of the day but grateful for the many ways I have been ministered to as well. Thanks be to God.
Robin Sandbothe is director of seminary relations, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Shawnee, Kansas.