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Some Thoughts for the New Year....

Estes Park, Colorado. Got to go here for Christmas with my family over the break.
Every year at the beginning of the year, we have a staff retreat involving all staff across all campuses. We get to spend several days fellowshipping, worshiping, praying, and preparing our hearts for the start of a new semester. We read a book together and discuss it at retreat. This year, we read The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene H. Peterson. A good chunk of this book Mr. Peterson spends time defining the word "pastor". He claims it has been distorted by our culture and needs to be reclaimed. One of the adjectives he used to redefine what is means to be a pastor is apocalyptic. Now he doesn't mean we are to hunker down in bunkers and store up for a coming apocalypse. Peterson says: "Pastors are the persons in the church communities who repeat and insist on these kingdom realities against the world appearances, and who therefore must be apocalyptic. In its dictionary meaning apocalypse is simply "revelation," the uncovering of what was covered up so that we can see what is there." Peterson goes on the claim that a huge part of being an apocalyptic pastor is patience. This next passage about apocalyptic patience really got to me and I wanted to share it with you:

"But the working environment of pastors erodes patience and rewards impatience. People are uncomfortable with mystery (God) and mess (themselves).  They avoid both mystery and mess by  devising programs and hiring pastors to manage them. A program provides a defined structure with an achievable goal. Mystery and mess are eliminated at a stroke......
With programs shaping the agenda- no amazing grace, not stubborn sin- the pastor doesn't have to be patient. We set a goal, work out a strategy, recruit a few Christian soldiers, and go to it. If, in two or three years the soldiers haven't produced, we shake the dust off our feet and hire on as captain to another group of mercenaries. When a congregation no longer serves our ambition, it is abandoned for another under the emphasis of "a larger ministry." In the majority of such cases, our impatience is rewarded with a larger salary.
Apocalypse show this up as inexcusable exploitation. Apocalypse convinces us that we are in a desperate situation, and in it together. The grass is not greener in the next committee, or parish, or state. All that matters is worshiping God, dealing with evil, and developing faithfulness. Apocalypse ignites a sense of urgency, but it quenches shortcuts and hurry, for the times are in God's hands. Providence, not the newspaper accounts for the times in which we live.
Impatience, the refusal to endure, is to pastoral character what strip mining is to the land- a greedy rape of what can be gotten at the least cost, and then abandonment in search of another place to loot. Something like fidelity comes out of apocalyptic: fidelity to God, to be sure, but also to people, to parish- to place." - Eugene H. Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor

The past couple months I have had a feeling leaving staff wasn't in the cards for me. I have been feeling a call to stay longer. How much longer is not clear to me yet. Reading this and discussing it on staff retreat made those thoughts and discussions with God and mentors clearer. I am young and have time and energy. I love campus ministry and I see a need for consistent female leadership on our staff. What if I am being called to have a fidelity to UTA Focus? To stick around a little longer? Prayers for discernment and wisdom would be so appreciated. Having started my degree in social work makes this more complicated though I do not think saying yes to Focus for longer completely closes the door on social work and vice versa. God may even leave the choice up to me. I am not sure. What I am sure about is leaving staff in May doesn't feel right. I want to be faithful to God, His will, and His people.

A few of us went on a hike!
I also want to let you know of an event we have coming up! Our annual Spring Showcase is on February 29th this year! This is an event we put on to raise money for potential student leaders to go to the Student Institute of Campus Ministry (SICM). Spring Showcase is a concert and art show with handpicked talent from our students and alumni. At SICM students receive hands on training in leading core, facilitating 1-1 bible studies, evangelism, and how to make and mature disciples. SICM is a HUGE part of what we do and how we build up disciples in our community. I remember it transforming how I viewed God and my part in His plan hear on earth when I went as a student. The conference is in Bellingham, WA so we put on this event to offset costs for students and make it more affordable. So mark your calendars! I would love to see you there! I will have more details about location and when our afternoon and evening shows are soon!

Prayer requests:
- Winter Camp is coming up January 17th-20th. This is a turning point for many students in their faith. Please pray God would prepare hearts and minds for what He has for our students and all would go smoothly.
- We are also currently preparing for a new semester! Please pray God would guide us as we get ready to welcome students back to campus.

As always thank you for supporting me and making ministry possible!

Many Blessings,
Emily Umstead

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