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Career Story: Parish Minister

Parish Minister

Job Title: Minister

Type of Company: The church is a spiritual center for people in the community. It is a worshipping congregation that also provides religious education for children, youth and adults, and actively works to improve the lives of others though its social justice work

Education: BA, English, College of the Holy Cross •• M.Div., Andover Newton Theological School

Previous Experience: I have worked as a hospital chaplain , a hospice chaplain, an assistant minister, sabbatical minister and interim minister.

Job Tasks: My work as a parish minister is multi-faceted. I prepare worship service for each Sunday. I officiate at religious rites such as weddings, funerals and memorial services, and child dedications. I represent the church in the community at interfaith meetings and serve as a public witness on social justice issues. I often meet with people who are in some measure of crisis, which can be a spiritual crisis, and emotional crisis, or a personal or economic challenge. As the pastor, I supervise the office administrator and the religious education director.

My work enables me to talk with people about faith, God and their beliefs and thus I have a window into the larger questions of life, death, meaning, suffering, joy, and ethics. Sometimes this can be very challenging; being with a family when their 17 year old son died after a car accident was probably the worst. Other times it is wonderful. Just being a part of people's lives and their growth is a privilege. Always I am learning a lot and growing along with the people I serve in the congregation.

I use words a lot in my work, and my computer is a regular accompaniment in my day. I write sermons, homilies, letters to the editor, emails, newsletter columns, articles and occasionally scholarly work. That said, the other daily practice of my life is prayer, and much of that is in silence and word-less. I listen for the voice of God and watch for signs of God in our world. I listen to people a lot too, keeping my mouth shut so I can be more fully aware and tuned into others and the spirit. Prayer life grounds my work and keeps me from being tossed around by all the challenges that come with minister.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The hardest part of my work is the abrupt transitions from one type of experience to another. For instance, I might have a counseling session with someone who has just been fired and then have to meet with the building and grounds committee about a fire safety plan, then off to the state house to lobby for affordable housing. When one encounter is very emotionally charged and then I have to be in another situation that calls for a very different response, that can be hard. On the plus side, there is enormous variety in what I get to do, and I often feel like I am making something of a difference in people's lives.

Job Tips:
1.) Establish or deepen your spiritual life. 2.) Discern with others from your church or denomination if this work is what you are called to do. 3.) Practice listening. 4.) Go to church. 5.) Become a lay leader in your church. 6.) If you're married or involved, talk to your partner about what this work will mean for your relationship and your present or future children. If your spouse is less than supportive, get some counseling about the issue.

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