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  • Helms Jarrell

This is what a pastor looks like?

I've been thinking a lot about my role and identity as pastor. What makes a pastor a pastor? Is it the church? Is it serving the sacraments? Is it the "Rev." in the front of one's name?


I don't look much like a pastor at all. I don't have a church, a pulpit, a communion table. I'm not facilitating worship, teaching Bible study, officiating weddings or funerals. I don't have an overtly "Christian" language. I don't have "go to" scripture passages or pithy phrases to bestow on folks. I don't always offer to pray at meetings or during visits with neighbors. In all the conventional ways, I don't act like a pastor.


Even more, folks haven't chosen me to be their pastor. Neighbors didn't nominate me or install me. I was ordained in 2003 by my home church in Raleigh. I do have the "Rev.," but it was not given to me folks here.


So, then, what makes me a pastor?


The ways in which I pastor have changed based on the context, setting, and times. The performative parts of being a pastor have shifted over time. My role as a pastor has taken shape as church youth minister, church co-pastor, campus minister, neighborhood youth group leader, and now the closest term I can think of for the shape I've taken recently is parish minister.


I think I know I'm a pastor because....I try my best to embody the likeness of Christ- Mother hen, storyteller, whisperer of good news, pointer outer of the way, honoring Creation, contemplating the wind, loving neighbor, loving God. I know the back stories. I ask the hard questions. I listen deeply. I leave room for silence. I offer a hand.


And I proclaim

That this is enough.

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