Racing with Pastor Monica

Did you smell the burn of rubber in Indy? Hear the screech of tires? May in the Midwest means it’s RACING season in Indianapolis. The checkered flags go up in yards; money pours into the IMS, and spectators from all over the world line up to see which driver will be crowned victor and (bizarrely enough) watch a bottle of milk be dumped over the winner’s head after chugging some to follow tradition. It is a global phenomenon.

But what about the smaller, everyday races? The ones where there is no crowd and no trophy? What happens when conditions change, the track gets slippery, or there is no clear finish line?

Pastor Monica has officially crossed the starting line and begun her “race” as our Pastor here at First Mennonite Church. She has put in years of training, moved across the country, and now it’s “all engines go” as she begins her new life here with us. After the pomp and circumstance of Monica’s installation, the stadium has gotten quieter. The crowd has dissipated and there aren’t clear road markers as to which way or how fast she should turn. Monica relies heavily on her daily quiet time and creative life to stay in tune with her divine inner compass.

Here are some specific ways we can pray for Monica and encourage her as she stays the course and navigates around bumps in the road. Pastor Monica currently faces chronic health issues that sometimes leave her physically tired and frustrated. Please join me in praying for strength, direction, and serenity as she seeks and discovers next steps for her medical journey. As the Pastoral Team Search Committee continues our quest for adding a part-time pastor, please pray for patience as Monica attempts to support our new church structure & all of the commissions in the absence of another leader to share the load. 

When I asked Monica what a “successful” first lap around the track might look like for her first year of pastoring, she thought for a minute, broke into a huge smile and replied, “When I reach my 27th sermon, I will have preached more at FMC than I have everywhere else combined.” As Monica pours her soul, study, and meditations into her sermons, I hope we can whoop & holler our appreciation and celebrate with her when she reaches this milestone! 

Pastor Monica is not alone on her journey. We are all interconnected and racing right alongside her. The old model of a dictator-pastor who has all the answers, and a congregation as passive recipients of said pastor, is over. The health of our congregation is entirely dependent on all of us, and we are all a part of church successes and failures. We say we want strong youth programming? Well, we need teachers and youth sponsors to step forward. We want to become an anti-racist church? Well then, we all need to show up for the Widerstand audit results and be engaged in future anti-bias training. Do we want to be a church where all are welcome and connect with our neighborhood? Church Life is gonna need help! No one person can fill all of our needs, but if we are serious about the spiritual health of our church, we all have a part to play in the days to come.

I invite you to spend time over the summer discerning what role God is nudging you toward in our faith community. This could look like daily prayer, asking a friend or spouse for the strengths they see in you, or journaling during a sermon and paying attention to what words fill your being with purpose and excitement. Let’s be intentional in our thoughts and actions as we run this race together alongside Pastor Monica.

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About the author

Carla Schmid

A race Carla currently runs is discerning between what work is hers to do, and what work is not hers to do!

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