Bearings: Navigating Life-as-Ministry
November 2019 | Brave Change

In the Brave Change issue of Bearings, our contributors explore the role of uncertainty, risk, discovery, and faith in moving life in new and unexpected directions. Featured articles by Peter Ilgenfritz and Socorro Castañeda offer compelling stories of major life transitions that challenged them deeply, calling on deep reserves of resilience and building new capabilities that enriched their sense of vocation. Emily Peck-McCain takes a more institutional look at brave change, as her commentary calls ministry leaders and congregations to see change as central to vocation, mission, and Christian identity. In our Creative Insights section, Mark Collins shares his own brave change as writer, moving from his usual nonfiction form to poetry and visual story, as he reflects on the dramatic changes the promise of new life and the inevitability of death bring in our Creative Insights section. Finally, as a balm for the uncertainty, unsettledness, and trauma change often brings as it wends its way to more positive territory in our lives, we call up from our archives a piece Darleen Pryds shared in 2018 on the healing movement into “thin space” and back out into a changed world.

From the Editor

Change, Brave and Otherwise

5 Years Later, Bearings Makes Its Own Brave Change

I've started on the introduction to this issue of Bearings magazine on brave change maybe twenty times in the past couple weeks. Then I've stopped. That's the thing about change—how often halting and unsteady it is, how seldom it is a matter of "pulling off the bandage" and dealing with the brief sting that follows, of jumping into the water and swimming with all... Read more

Gratitude for Elizabeth Drescher

With this issue of Bearings, Elizabeth Drescher, friend and consulting scholar with The BTS Center from its earliest days, puts down her editor’s pen, wrapping up this project which has been her labor of love for the past five-plus years. We can’t let this moment pass without offering words of deep gratitude and praise for her skillful and spirited work as the... Read more
Featured Article

Our Lady of Brave Change

Spiritual Imagination at the Heart of Strength & Resilience

When I set out to do research for what became a book, Our Lady of Everyday Life, on the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, or “La Virgen,” as Mexican Catholics including those that have left the church refer to her, I knew little of the kind of journey I was about to undertake. My initial goal was to learn more about the devotion to La Virgen among Mexican-origin... Read more
Featured Article

Finding New Life by Sailing into the Void

As the sailboat continued to rise about the white capped waves, I gripped the side and leaned back as far as I dared trying to drive the boat down flat on the water. My feet slipped on wet floorboards and someone yelled, his voice constricted into a high-pitched squeak, “We’re going over!” I recognized that voice: It was mine. Wide-eyed and heart pounding,... Read more

Embracing Brave Change as Christian Identity and Mission

For people in ministry, one of the most frustrating phrases to hear from congregants and committees is, “But we’ve never done it that way before.” There is often a lot packed into that one sentence—fear (of risk, of failure), hesitation around trusting the pastoral leader, and even grief over the loss of the familiar.  For leaders this phrase can feel like a roadblock.... Read more
Creative Insights

Obits, Prayers, and Sonograms

My friend Gary's father often re-told an old joke: in the morning he would read the obits; if his name didn't appear, he would go into work. I'm at an age now where I, too, read obituaries. Oh, I'm fine health-wise, despite the rebuilt knees. Everything seems to be working OK but I think the warranty is running out on some of my innards and not all of them have... Read more
From Our Archives

Five Days in a ‘Thin Place’

A Pilgrimage before Coping

As someone who has volunteered in hospice for ten years and has written on the spirituality of dying and death, I am often asked about grief and coping with loss. I used to balk and say, “I do dying and death; not grief. I know nothing about coping with loss.” While I still do not presume to claim that I have clinical expertise or professional pastoral experience... Read more