The Pastoral Both/And: A Complicated Story

At the end of every academic year, we host the Integrative Project symposium, in which The Seattle School’s alumni, current students, faculty, staff, and the Seattle community at large are invited to witness and celebrate the bold, thoughtful, and creative work of our graduating Master of Divinity and MA in Theology & Culture students.

For these students, the Integrative Project serves as a capstone of their time in graduate school—born out of years of study, countless conversations with peers and faculty, and each student’s distinctive embodiment of text, soul, and culture. Their work utilizes a blend of research methodology, personal exploration and engagement, and The Seattle School’s unique lens.

In this video, Cassie Carroll (MDiv) presents on her project, “The Pastoral Both/And: A Complicated Story,” which emerged as she gathered stories from five pastors about the complexities of pastoral work. Cassie shares from her own experiences in vocational ministry and her process of learning about the complex expectations and the overwhelming to-do lists that pastors face.

“Our stories are woven together and bound together in ways that are much more complicated and beautiful than we could imagine.”

ruth-naomi-he-qiAs a catalyst for her conversations with the five pastors she interviewed, Cassie pulled from The Art of Pastoring: Contemplative Reflections by William C. Martin. Cassie was also influenced by Ruth & Naomi, a painting by He Qi.

Cassie identifies the themes that she encountered and which she explores thoroughly in her project, including the expectation that pastors be perfect CEO’s rather than broken humans who are learning to wear their wounds well; the role of identity and the need for pastors to allow the church to form its own identity, shaped by its community rather than by the pastor’s personality; and the loss of mystery—the demand that pastors offer simple, clear answers to big, complex questions.

“We’re in this world where we want things to be definitive—one answer or another. When we think of the both/and, it is too risky, too complicated, too mysterious, and too unknown. We need pastors that are willing to dive into this unknown space to bring about more of God’s goodness in this world.”

We are proud to sponsor Cassie in her post-graduation project, Listening in Place. Cassie is traveling the country collecting stories from church planters, practitioners, pastors, social entrepreneurs, and theologians that are rethinking the way we “do” church. You can learn more about Cassie’s work on her website, and stay tuned to the Intersection blog in the coming weeks as we feature some of her stories.

The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology's mission is to train people to be competent in the study of text, soul, and culture in order to serve God and neighbor through transforming relationships.

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