The pandemic has altered church life in ways we are still discerning. For Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York, the disruption dissolved lines between home life and church life, and it pushed congregational members to explore creative callings in new, innovative ways. In this episode, Journalist Eliza Gray and Pastor Brett Younger discuss the way COVID shifted their engagement and ministry in church community.
Plymouth Church is one of thirteen congregations taking part in Collegeville Institute’s Communities of Calling Initiative. The Communities of Calling Initiative is a five-year program that grants congregations funds to design a new project or enhance existing ministries that help Christians discover and deepen their sense of God’s calling in their lives.
Topics and resources discussed in this episode:
- Communities of Calling Initiative (CCI)
- Plymouth Church’s CCI Learnings & Activities
- Books by Rev. Dr. Brett Younger
- Journalist Eliza Gray
- The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom by Christine Valters Paintner
Eliza Gray is a journalist who’s written and edited for TIME, Newsweek, and The New Republic, among other publications. Her work has been nominated for a Livingston Award and a GLAAD Media award. Eliza is also co-director of the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program where she teaches journalism and guides low-income teens through the college admissions process. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and children and attends Plymouth Church.
Brett Younger is still surprised to be the Senior Minister of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York. Dr. Younger previously served as a professor at the McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta and as a pastor in Texas, Kansas, and Indiana. His most recent book is Funny When You Think About It: Serious Reflections on Faith. He met his wife Carol when they were seminary students in Louisville. Brett and Carol have two sons who are lawyers, Graham and Caleb.
- Eliza describes a big vocational moment during the pandemic, when she decided to take time off from journalism to care for her family, and how this move unearthed big questions about identity, meaning, and purpose. How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your callings? What big vocational questions are you wrestling with these days?
- Ellie wonders about the callings people experience to join a congregation. Reflect on your faith journey and the path you took to joining your congregation. What have been some pivotal vocational moments for you with your congregation? Why do you continue to answer this call to participate in church life?
- Brett and Eliza explore the unique communal callings of Plymouth Church. What are the unique communal callings of your congregation?
- Check out resources to explore calling in your congregation on the Communities of Calling Initiative website.
- Brett and Eliza spoke of the positive impact of small groups on the callings of their parishioners. Explore these vocational small group curriculums from the Collegeville Institute and consider starting a group in your congregation.
- Miss the last episode? Listen to Carol Younger share her vocational story of becoming a writer and how her writing practice has deepened her spiritual journey and sense of God’s presence. Through creating curriculum and hosting church writing groups centered on Scripture, she invites others in her congregation at Plymouth Church to use writing as a tool of discernment and as a form of prayer.
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