Why I don’t skip The Young Clergy Women Project conference

Eight years ago an invitation that I couldn’t resist came through my inbox. It was a forwarded email about a preaching conference at the Cathedral College – otherwise known as Hogwarts for clergy – in Washington, D.C. It was the inaugural gathering for The Young Clergy Women Project, part research pool for TYCWP’s amazing founder Susan Olson and part newly-forming tribe.

Image courtesy of The Young Clergy Women Project.
Image courtesy of The Young Clergy Women Project.

It would take volumes to recount the ways that TYCWP, and the annual conferences in particular, have shaped me vocationally and personally. But here are a few highlights:

2007 conference (Washington, D.C.) – I was struck by the realizations that I do in fact enjoy preaching and that I might have a viewpoint worth sharing. This knowledge sent me into a tailspin, as I was starting a new call the following week that did not involve preaching.

2008 conference (Washington, D.C.) – My peers helped me think through the tough end to my non-preaching call and discern possible new beginnings. I also became the chair of TYCWP’s community board.

2009 board meeting (St. Louis, M.O.) – When the Cathedral College ended its residential program, TYCWP took a year to consider whether it had the need and the capacity to continue offering annual conferences. When the board decided to give it a go, I had the opportunity to grow a whole new skill set in event planning and to work with a great team on a very intense task.

2010 conference (Atlanta, G.A.) – The conference planning team left it all on the plenary room floor. Our lessons learned, I believe, helped planning teams in the succeeding years create even better experiences. I also had my first real exposure to clergy coaching, which naturally was important to my decision to become a coachee and then a coach.

2011 conference (Durham, N.C.) – In a stunning moment of clarity, facilitated by the keynote speaker, I saw a vision of a toddler running from me to my husband, thus answering the long-held question about whether we should and would become parents.

2012 conference (Chicago, I.L.) – When I nearly hurled on my cabmates on the way to and from a dinner on the river, I realized that I could possibly be on the way to becoming the parent I saw in my vision. (I was.)

2013 conference (Nashville, T.N.) – I intended to skip this conference because I had a two-month-old, but I’m so glad I didn’t. My son was surrounded and blessed by women clergy, and he will never need to ask whether women can be preachers too. And even though I was between positions, my clergy-ness was affirmed by people who understand vocational transition and disruption.

I did miss the 2014 conference in Minneapolis, M.N., because of church commitments. But I’m back and making the most of my next-to-last year of eligibility. I can’t wait to share the impact of this year’s conference, happening NOW in Austin, T.X.

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One thought on “Why I don’t skip The Young Clergy Women Project conference

  1. A good conference enhances many aspects of your life. I’m glad you found this one. That is why I encourage my Disciple friends to attend General Assembly. It’s hard to imagine, if you have never gone, how much you get out of attending.

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