Monday, April 28, 2008

Twenty Five Years and Counting

This June I will celebrate my 25th anniversery of ordination and the Upstate New York Synod has asked me and others who are celebrating significant milestones to briefly reflect on these years of ministry. I decided that I wanted to focus on two things, first; the value of youth ministry experience and second, the importance of relationships in ministry. Here is what I wrote.

Reflection on 25 Years of Ordained Ministry

Any reflection that I do on the past 25 years of ordained ministry must, I think, be done in the context of 40 years of youth ministry. It was in those early years ministering to youth as a volunteer and later as paid staff that I received the call to ordained ministry. It was in those experiences that I grew as a leader and began learning to communicate the Gospel in exciting and creative ways. The youth I worked with and ministered to taught me how important it is to be energetic, passionate, and creative as I shared my faith. It was during those early days that I felt called to develop “The King’s Clown” ministry as a creative way to share the message through mime. This ministry opened many doors for me including opportunities to lead worship in Germany and Ireland. It was this unique ministry that generated the financial resources I needed when attending undergraduate school and Seminary while raising four children. Youth that I have trained continue this ministry today, bringing joy and laughter along with the Gospel to many congregations. My passion for working with youth and young adults has continued to this day as I prepare for a 26th year at Senior High Camp.
The most important knowledge that I have acquired in 25 years of parish ministry is that I am but one part of the “Body of Christ”. Carrying out my responsibilities as an ordained pastor has been a collaborative affair. Whatever effectiveness I’ve had comes from the love, support, and encouragement of the family members, congregational leaders, parish staff, and colleagues who have shared in this ministry. In those relationships I experienced humility, forgiveness, and the wonderful joy of working together to proclaim God’s love to the wider community. My first call was to The Rensselaer County Lutheran Parish, an effort to bring four congregations and two pastors together in a collaborative ministry. We experienced both successes and challenges as we strived to do ministry together. Three years later I was called to Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Clifton Park where I served for 21 years. What a joy it has been to serve a community so rich with people willing to stretch and grow in their faith walk. Together we grew as a pastor and a congregation that could boldly state that we practiced
“LEADERSHIP that is inspired by the Holy Spirit and shared by our Pastors, staff and lay leaders as we strive to live as a Christian community with integrity.”
I am now “retired” from parish ministry and am continuing to explore how I fit into the “body of Christ” during this chapter of my life. My purpose continues to be “to creatively and joyfully communicate God’s love” in whatever circumstances I am experiencing. I am forever grateful to all those who have been a part of this journey with me.
His Servant;
Pastor Chuck Schwartz

The Synod also requested before and after photos. Here they are.

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