I have spent a great deal of processing over this past week since being assigned to Region 5 as the ELCA's spring Assignment Process. I realize that for those of you not part of the ELCA or even for those who are part of the ELCA this may sound like a foreign language in many ways. Assignment is a process that is used to spread the candidates for ordained ministry in the church across the Unites States based on their gifts and skills along with where the needs of the church are at any given time. A prayerful process takes place in Chicago over two days where bishops, regional coordinators, seminary representatives, and the Holy Spirit gather to discern and prayerfully assign those of us approved for ordination. I have made this process seem much simpler than it truly is, but that is the easiest way to explain it.
Here is a map of where Region 5 is located and the synods.
As I have discerned this week about my feelings of assignment I have realized how much this week has brought me back to the start of my process of moving to seminary and beginning candidacy. I remember this feeling of discomfort, excitement, and just a complete sense of the unknown when I moved to Gettysburg to start seminary. I never thought I would come to call the east coast home and never thought I would fall in love with the Washington DC area that way I have over the past three and a half years. Now I find myself filled with these same feelings as I head back "home" to Region 5. This time I may know the area to a certain degree but there is a great deal of unknown. I would like to think that this would be the last time I would feel these feelings in ministry, but I believe the Spirit has a way of working that this is just another instance of many to come. Tomorrow or Thursday, I will receive a call telling me which synod I am assigned to and from there I will begin the call process.
It is hard to believe that three and a half years ago I could not wait to be called back "home" and now I am filled with such mixed emotions because there is great excitement and sadness that comes with going "home." It means I will have the chance to meet new people yet again, rekindle relationships, and do some of the outdoor winter activities I love again. It also means I will be leaving a place that has truly become home in so many ways, it means say goodbye for now to dear friends and we now begin bridging what it means to be long distant friends, and leaving an area that has taught me so much about life. The Spirit has some mighty ways of stirring and changing our lives in ways we do not always expect. Can we find ways to be comfortable with being uncomfortable? I am still working on this and have to believe I will be forever because the Spirit seems always to keep us on our toes.