Rev. Dr David Emmanuel Goatley: “Pray that the Spirit will breath on the conversations”

A young man leads a moment of prayer during an ecumenical celebration at Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

(WCC)- A new weekly podcast series, “Pilgrimages of Striving and Thriving,” aims to draw wisdom from Black churches in the US through engaging conversations with pastoral leaders. The tone of the series, produced by Lott Carey, encourages transparency on how spiritual gifts interact with unique settings for ministry.

Below, Rev. Dr David Emmanuel Goatley, who cohosts the podcast, reflects on the path that led to the series, the response to the conversations so far, and hopes for future inspiration.

Can you describe the path that led to producing the “Pilgrimages of Thriving and Striving” podcast?

Rev. Dr Goatley: The Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Society was awarded a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its Thriving in Ministry Initiative, which is helping scores of organizations provide programs to address needs of under-resourced pastors. Lott Carey’s project is called “Pilgrimages of Striving and Thriving.” 

One cohort of women pastors and another cohort of young adult pastors are on three-year journeys of peer support toward flourishing in ministry. We believe that when pastors embrace the formula: personal CAPACITY plus service CONTEXT yields ministry CONTENT, pastors have a higher probability for flourishing.

This is an organic approach that learns from a tree, for example. There may be times when leaves are budding; when the tree is in full bloom; when leaves are falling away; and when branches are bare. Still, however, the tree can be healthy and flourishing. Ministry is similar.

The podcast is designed to enlarge our reach to pastors who are not in the group of 24 women pastors and 22 young adult pastors who meet periodically for mutual support along this journey. The podcast can help pastors throughout the world to imagine how the formula might work for them and to hear the testimonies of effective pastors who know what it is to strive and thrive.

Are listeners responding in a positive way?

Rev. Dr Goatley: We are hearing from pastors around the world who are grateful to “overhear” conversations with experienced pastors who are being honest and transparent about how they imagine flourishing; areas in which they have needed to grow; advice they have received; and how they describe flourishing in ministry. The transparency of guests has been noted as amazing because hearers are able to discover that effective and “successful” pastors have had to learn hard lessons and have made mistakes.

What can your ecumenical family pray for you?

Rev. Dr Goatley: The ecumenical family can pray that the Spirit will breath on the conversations so that they can speak meaningfully to pastors around the world who may be struggling and striving. Pastoral life is hard work, but it is good work.

Pastors sometimes feel alone and work in isolation, but this podcast can help them to know that they are not alone and that others have had to strive to thrive. Whatever season they may be experiencing can be part of the seasons of thriving even when they only see a candlelight amid darkness. Darkness cannot overcome light.

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