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Company of New Pastors Conference (Nov 11-14)

The Company of New Pastors was formed to help seminary graduates stay in church ministry by instilling the importance of spiritual disciplines and theological reflection. It also serves as a support group by bringing together new pastors into groups led by a veteran pastor. In seminary our group met once a month to discuss our ordination vows. It was a wonderful group of twelve students and two mentors.

This past week the Company of New Pastors gathered together for a conference in the mountains of Colorado. Ten out of the twelve members of my group from Princeton were in attendance. We had morning, midday, and evening prayer throughout the conference (this includes multiple prayers, some singing, and scripture reading). We reflected on the doctrine of providence in small group discussions and through four sessions of guided journaling. We had two panel discussions with six seasoned pastors who willingly answered questions about serving as pastors.

At the conference we were divided into small groups (roughly) based on the region in which we live. I was in the Texas (and Oklahoma) Region with two friends from Princeton, four new friends from Austin Theological Seminary, and an experienced Pastor currently serving in Boulder, CO. I think this group will continue to be a source of encouragement and support as we have planned to stay in touch and have promised to pray for one another.

The guided journaling gave me an opportunity to reflect on my life. I was able to discover previously unrecognized sources of pain and comfort. I recognized my need to ask a loved one for forgiveness. Most of all, I was able to see that God was present with me even in the difficult times (especially in the difficult times). At the end of the experience I was able to count my blessings and thank God for all of the saints in my life.

Kenny at Bear LakeI was able to enjoy two hikes and a walk around a frozen lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park. My breath was taken away by the beauty of God’s creation (not to mention the altitude).

The best part about the trip was being reunited with my friends from Princeton Theological Seminary. Ten out of the twelve folks in our group attended the conference. My best friend, Kevin, was my roommate. Our group shared our hopes and dreams as well as our concerns and doubts. We ate together, hiked together, laughed together, and prayed together.

There is a cliché that says, “Sometimes it is hard to see the trees because of the forest.” Sometimes you need to take a step back from what you are doing in order to see where you have been and where you would like to go. This week has given me an opportunity to reflect on my first five months of ministry at First Presbyterian Church in Pampa. There are some things that I think I have done well, but there are also things I know I would like to improve on. This week has helped me see how I can better use my gifts and equip those in the church to use theirs.

Kenny and girls at Bear Lake

Here I am with the Princeton Crew that went to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Kenny and Jeremiah

Here I am with Jeremiah on top of a large rock on the side of a mountain that we hiked. Jessica was also with us (she is the one taking the picture). We had a great hike and they only had to stop for me to catch my breath three times - whew!