by Amanda Wagoner Meade

Pastor, First Christian Church, Jeffersonville, Indiana

At the lowest moment of my ministry, I was standing in the back of my own worship space trying to figure out where to sit.  It was a prayer service for my senior pastor who had been arrested and then committed suicide and I needed a place to sit with someone who felt safe, when nothing in my ministry felt very safe.  Then Verity walked in, representing the whole Wabash community and I knew she could keep me protected and handle my grief in that moment as she had done before.

Last year, my senior pastor clergy group discussed the idea of sanctuary. We were each asked to name a place where we felt safe and cared for, and rather than name a location, I said with my Wabash group.

Both of those experiences were possible because Raymond Williams had an amazing idea and Lilly generously made it a reality for pastors like me. Because of Raymond’s experience and wisdom he saw a way to nurture and shape ministers who had the potential to be leaders not just in their church but their communities in Indiana and now all over the country.

I was an associate pastor when I joined this group and I often didn’t know exactly how all this learning would translate into my ministry situation. After a decade worth of support and learning and getting to be in meaningful relationships with pastors I admired, showed me the kind of senior pastor I wanted to be.  I learned what faithful leadership looked like in real life from across denominational lines, across theological differences, and very different types of congregations and communities.  I now use my voice and presence in my community intentionally and to expand the message of the church.

This program challenged me to be better so I could live up to the potential they saw in me.   I wanted to be the leader Raymond said I had the potential to be, I am still working on it. So stay close with this group, they will change your life, and in the critical moments of your ministry they might be sanctuary for you too.


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