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Along the Journey  |  

The Help You Never Knew You Needed

It was sometime in the early 2000s that I was searching the interwebs for some ministry ideas and I ran across this thing called S3, a grant offered by the Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary.

Being on the West Coast, I barely even knew where this was, but it was money for collegial pastor groups sustaining each other in ministry and that was all I needed.


I reached out to the other three members of my then collegial covenant group and
said, “hey, let’s go for this….free money from Lilly to fund our retreats!”

At the time, I had no idea this would be a seed, a starter, and a way forward in the crazy life of ministry.

At the time, I was struggling in a first call and I didn’t even realize it until four of us sat around a table in the chapel at Columbia, and I read from the following passage in 2 Corinthians 4-12.


 Therefore since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.

2 We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.

3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.

4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

5 For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake.

6 For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.

8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;

9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.

11 For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh.

12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.


In a split second, everything crystallized, came clear and I realized that I had been feeling so
alone, and as if there was no help available or as a wise mid-council colleague likes to remind
me, “no help is coming!”

But help was there.

Real, tangible, and caring came in the form of experience, colleagues, professors and administrators who cared about the church and ministers, hospitality that welcomed us to campus and provided for us space and time to reflect, to resource one another and to share our discoveries and our distress.


Money was available for us to provide time to study, serve and create sabbath.

Since that wide-eyed, lost and newly-minted pastor started ministry back in the early-2000’s and participated in S3, she returned to Columbia for a Mid-Career Colloquy and a stint as a Guthrie Scholar.

My ministry journey has been anything but a straight line, but it has quite
decidedly been scattered with helpers along the road.

Guides, road markers and rest stops have allowed me to change direction, modes of transportation and chart an entirely new course.

I have ventured from associate pastor to solo pastor to interim of small and medium-sized churches and now, as Transitional Executive Leader of the Presbytery of Southern Kansas.


The road has not been easy, but it is quite apparent to me that I am not alone, and actually, if one is resourceful and is open and keeps looking, there is help available!

This type of ministry support and financial aid couldn’t have come at a better time for me.

Discover how the CLL’s new reKindle Impact Grant for congregations can help you and your church thrive and connect deeper to God’s world.


Learn more and apply for the grant HERE.

Image previewGail Doering serves as the Transitional Executive Leader of the Presbytery of Southern Kansas and is a former Guthrie Scholar and Mid-Colloquy Career participant.

Along the Journey