Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

Moving out of Liminality, and Into New Ministries

A few weeks ago I wrote an article exploring what it felt like to inhabit a space of liminality, or to put it another way, to hold my life in an intentional space of creative not-knowing, allowing possibilities and dreams to burble with hopes and visions. That space has allowed me to explore many possibilities for the coming years, to enter into conversations with several different congregations, to explore some civilian Chaplaincy ministries, and to even look at a few possibilities that seem “off the wall” and imagine what my ministry would look like if I were to go in a totally unexpected tangent…

During an exercise last week I was asked to pick a picture from a book and then explain why that particular picture represented my internal landscape. I seized on a picture of a glacier, with sharp angles and profound clarity… and I knew in that moment that I had moved out of my time of liminality, and into a time of increased clarity. My internal reality had shifted from one of intentional doubt and creative not-knowing, to one of mission, calling, and purpose. And yet, even with that newfound clarity, I am a deeper and broader person than I was just a few weeks ago, because of all of those who entered into creative conversation with me about what was possible. You know who you are, and I will not name you… rather just to say “Thank You” for being with me in this time of discovery.

A time of Liminality, or creative not-knowing, is more than just a time where you allow for many possibilities and perspectives, but one where you are intentionally seeing if one or two of those possibilities or perspectives can rise to the forefront on their own… can stand out from the background of all of the others. And among those possibilities and perspectives, can you make a choice between them as to where you are called to go? In my case, moving through this time of liminality, that is exactly what happened.

Sandy and I are excited that next August we will be moving to Midland Michigan, where I will be serving a one-year buy imitrex term as the Interim / Consulting Minister for the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Midland, Michigan. In my conversations with them, it became clear to me, through the intentional fuzzyness of my liminality, that this was the right place for my ministry in the coming year. I look forward to learning from them, being with them in their joys and sorrows, and exploring with them the boundaries of what is possible, as they are in search for a settled minister. I also look forward to spending a year in the Heartland District, where I have many colleagues, friends, and connections.

And, both Sandy and I look forward to getting out of Chicago. We really do! Horray!

Also, as I will only be walking with the UU Fellowship of Midland for a year, we have decided to accept the U.S. Army’s offer that I commission and accession as a U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain. I will be serving a reserve unit (1 weekend a month, 2 weeks a year) in the area of Northern Michigan. At the end of this year in Midland, our intent (at this time) is to look at a deployment to Afghanistan or Iraq (or wherever else our military happens to be by then).

However, going to Midland is not only a wonderful opportunity for ministry with a dynamic and growing congregation, but it also allows for me to extend at least part of this liminality on my future ministry for that year, and continue to explore options. Who knows what will come of that? Perhaps we will explore a search for a settled ministry, or a civilian chaplaincy somewhere. Perhaps the Fellowship in Midland and I can explore some of where each of us is called in the future together.

To all the colleagues who have offered advice, hope, and support through this time, thank you. And to anyone else looking to experience a time of liminality in their life or call, I wish you well. It has been an incredible experience for me, doubting soul though I was. Sorry, I could not resist the pun…

Yours in faith,

Rev. David

2 Thoughts on “Moving out of Liminality, and Into New Ministries

  1. As a recent addict to your blog, a board member at UUFoM and a member of your transition/fellowshipping team I can hardly wait to meet you in person and welcome you to Midland!

  2. Pingback: Ministry is Dangerous | Celestial Lands

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