On February 4th and 5th First Call pastors, deacons, and ministry partners gathered for our annual First Call Theological Education Retreat in Richmond. First Call Theological Education (FCTE) is a three-year structured program of theological education designed to assist newly called leaders in the transition to rostered ministry. The theme for this year’s retreat was “It’s All About You” providing two refreshing days of conversation, worship, and fellowship exploring the topic of self-care in the context of ministry.
Self-care is any activity that we do intentionally in an effort to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although self-care is a simple concept, in theory, it’s something many people can easily overlook. Good self-care is critical to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It is also paramount to a good relationship with oneself and others. All of these reasons are why discussing self-care in the context of ministry is extremely important. Overextending, and engaging in stressful unhealthy habits are easy to fall into particularly those who are new rostered ministers. It’s important to establish a solid foundation of practices that promote positive work-life balances that serve to reduce stress and promote better physical health.
With three keynote presentations each led by a member of the First Call committee by Pastor Dave Young of Bethel Lutheran in Winchester, Pastor Kelly Bayer Derrick, Assistant to the Bishop, and Pastor Tina Melusky of Trinity Lutheran in Newport News. Break out sessions followed each keynote allowing those in the first call to converse with their cohorts and ministry partners. During these break out groups there were great stories shared and conversation about what self-care looks like, why it’s important to take time for yourself, understanding self-care as an act of stewardship for yourself and your relationship with your congregation.
Free time was also a major component of this retreat, providing time to practice and engage in self-care activities. Since everyone’s needs for self-care differ, there were plenty of different opportunities offered to take time for oneself. From reading a book to taking a hike, finding ways to care for yourself in a healthy way is critical to continuing ministry.
This year’s First Call retreat was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about self-care practices in ministry, getting to know others currently serving in their first call, and making friends with peers and ministry partners. Two days spent together taking time for reflection and relaxation can make just the right start for rostered ministers beginning in their call. For more information about FCTE in the Virginia Synod, visit www.vasynod.org/resources/first-call