Walking Together

1 Comment » Written on July 17th, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Pastor Catherine Gilliard and Pastor Tim Rodgers serve as co-senior pastors of New Life Covenant Church, a multi-cultural congregation in Atlanta, Georgia. Catherine is ordained to Word and Sacrament, holds an MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary and is a candidate for a Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from the Association of Chicago Theological Schools. She currently serves as president of Advocates for Covenant Clergy Women (ACCW).
BG&E Photo - Walking Together Blog
When I enter into the pages of scripture, I see a model of discipleship that is rarely duplicated. It is our call to ‘make disciples.’ In most parts of the business world this is called, ‘mentorship.’ I define it as the journey you take with another person to grow deeper in understanding — a journey of transforming you into a new way of ‘being.’ Throughout scripture, we witness this transformative journey as Jesus walked with disciples moving through each day with a heightened awareness of God’s priorities in their world. When we enter into discipleship and mentorship relationships, we, too, are able to walk together with new understandings and a deeper sense of urgency and call. The process of being transformed will always mean being challenged and constantly changed — and change is a difficult process for us all. Sadly, I believe comfort is something rarely found in discipleship and mentoring relationships.

Whenever I have entered into discipleship relationships with other men and women, I have been changed by their story, as they are also changed by mine. We are each also changed by the Word of God as we are led by the Holy Spirit to follow Christ’s example of challenging systemic structures of prejudice, oppression and abuse, inside and outside of the church. It is in walking together that I discover your heart’s longings, while you encounter mine. We are changed, because we have intentionally chosen to walk into places of challenge together: listening, talking, sharing, and seeing the world and one another, differently. New models aren’t needed for transformation. To truly be transformed, we need to be ‘with’ each other more – and not through technological devices, but in our walking together. As we listen to one another we can discover God’s voice in the midst of those issues we name as places of struggle for us.

Men and women who don’t believe women are called to pastoral ministry should walk with a clergy woman in a discipleship relationship for at least one year and in walking together, experience how God changes understanding. Young Christian women who believe older, aging women no longer hold a meaningful place in the body should walk together with older women in ministry and see how they are changed by this experience. Older Christian women who feel young women have little to offer the body of Christ should walk together for at least one year and experience how they are changed. This journey of walking together for deeper understanding is also true for beliefs held about women of different races, classes, survivors of domestic violence, recidivism and re-incarceration.

In walking together, we reclaim Jesus’ model of discipleship, not only to be people of compassion and mercy, but also to walk into places of advocacy that demand justice. I wonder how many within the body of Christ, male and female would be willing to walk together with a clergy woman as their mentor, or in a discipleship relationship with a woman leader, for at least one year? If we made such a commitment, what could happen a year from now to our understanding of the gifts we each bring to the body of Christ? Are we open to God changing us and our understanding? What woman is God calling you to walk together with right now?

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One Response to “Walking Together”

Thank you Catherine for your thoughtful post about the importance of walking together as seekers, mentors and advocates of God’s truth! A favorite question in the Covenant is “How goes your walk with the Lord?” I appreciate your invitation to ask this question, not just as individuals, but as the larger Body of Christ too: “How goes our walk with the Lord?” This is Biblical! Isaiah 2:3 says “Come, let us go to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” As someone who has been both a mentor and a mentee, I affirm the wonderful paths God leads us on when men and women of different backgrounds choose to intentionally and faithfully walk together. Thank you for encouraging all of us to invest time and faith in such meaningful relationships!

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