Christ & Cascadia with Rev. Emily McGinley | Podcast Season 06, Episode 02

by Mar 12, 2024Transforming Engagement: the Podcast

In this season, we’re exploring the unique tapestry of the continental Pacific Northwest, known as the “Cascadia” region, and how it shapes ministry. Today, we’re joined by Rev. Emily McGinley, who shares her journey from the Midwest to San Francisco and the cultural and religious differences she’s encountered.

You’ll gain insights into:

  • Understanding Cultural and Religious Contexts: Rev. Emily’s experience transitioning between regions highlights the importance of understanding and adapting to different cultural and religious contexts in ministry.
  • Intersectionality in Ministry: Rev. Emily talks about how her Asian American identity influences her ministry, emphasizing the need to recognize and honor various aspects of identity within the context of faith.
  • Engaging with Contemporary Issues: Discover how to approach complex contemporary topics like A.I. from a theological perspective, fostering discussions that encourage critical thinking and exploration of their relevance to spiritual beliefs.
  • Balancing Idealism with Realism: Reflect on the delicate balance between idealism and realism in ministry, considering how to hold onto a vision for positive change while navigating practical challenges and limitations.

No matter where you’re listening from, we hope these conversations spark reflection on your own ministry context.

Listener Resources: 

  • To our neighbors throughout the Cascadia region: Mark your calendars for April 25th and plan to join us for our inaugural Christ & Cascadia Gathering. More details can be found at
  • Christ & Cascadia is an annual gathering and online journal that exists to inspire innovative faith practice and the exchange of ideas among Christ followers—to explore, imagine, and create the future of Christianity in Cascadia. Stay connected by joining their monthly newsletter here.
  • Don’t miss an episode: Subscribe to Transforming Engagement, The Podcast on AppleSpotify, or Amazon Music (Audible)

About our guest:

Rev. Emily McGinley (she/her) is at City Church San Francisco. She became a Christian in the non-denominational evangelical tradition before entering ordained ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Prior to her role as the Senior Pastor of City Church, she was the Executive Pastor of Urban Village Church and the founding pastor of UVC’s Hyde Park-Woodlawn site, located on the South Side of Chicago. Emily has extensive experience working across diverse networks and Christian traditions. She has preached and presented nationally on a variety of topics, including vocational discernment, preaching, church planting, social media in ministry, inclusive evangelism, and anti-racist church leadership and is the recipient of several grants to support her efforts to explore the role of design thinking in ministry. I In addition to having coached pastors and congregations, she is a contributing writer to the books, Inter-Cultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World and Finding Peace in an Anxious World. Rev. Emily is committed to building gospel-shaped inclusive spaces that nurture, challenge, and practice radical hospitality at City Church and beyond!

Episode Transcript

Kate: Welcome to Transforming Engagement in the podcast where we have conversations about ministries that serve the common good and a higher good. Today I’m joined by the Reverend Emily McGinley of City Church San Francisco. Emily, would you introduce yourself to us and how you came to the Cascadia region?

Emily: Yeah, sure. So yeah, Emily McGinley, she/her pronouns and I serve as the senior pastor of City Church San Francisco, and I think we talked earlier about Northern California kind of counts as Cascadia. So that’s where we’re going with. And so in that case then I’m returning to Cascadia. I grew up in Washington state and the foothills of Mount Rainier. And so I think my thing is that I…it has been interesting to return to the Pacific Northwest-ish since being gone for almost two decades. I didn’t grow up in their religious family. We were sort of Santa Christmas people and Bunny Easter people. So the secular,

Kate: It is such a metaphor

Emily: Right? And ended up deciding– kind of long story, hopefully medium– that to read the Bible. When I was in high school, I was a big reader. I was kind of going through some challenges in my home life and trying to figure out those big existential questions of who am I, what am I here for? All of that. And happened to come across a Bible. It’s kind of standard Gideon’s issued Bible that we probably picked up at a hotel somewhere and brought home. And so I’m always a big proponent of the Gideon’s Ministry for that reason, but decided to read the Bible. I thought maybe it would kind of help me feel better, help me felt kind of magical in a way. And so cracked it open at the beginning as you do when you read a book. And very quickly came to realize after pretty good every night reading about five chapters for maybe a month and a half, came to realize this book….It’s crazy. So decided to go to this church that was a block down the street from where I lived, a non-denominational, evangelical Bible church. And just started spending more time there kind of was in this attitude of I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to understand this book. And did that for a few months before my best friend in junior high said, “I’ve got this study bible here. You’re welcome to read that if you want. I never read it.” And so I was like, “sure, that sounds good.” It’s got these helpful little insets about if you’re having a problem with friends who gossip, then this passage can help you with that. And that kind of helped. But what probably prompted me in a more, let’s say, institutional way to become a Christian was that same friend was going through confirmation class in her Lutheran church and was talking about baptism.

And I was like, oh, well, what’s that? So she explains it to me in the way that she could and said, kind of ended with saying, “well, you are baptized, aren’t you?” And I said, “I don’t know.” And so she was like, “well, you have to be baptized if you want to go to heaven.” And I thought, “well, I got to get baptized.” So started checking off on these little cards that they had in the seats in front of you at church that I wanted to get baptized. And eventually sat down with the youth pastor, and he explained to me all this stuff about baptism and Jesus. I was like, okay. And then he says, “so would you like to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” And I was like, “oh, well that kind of sounds like a big deal.” And he was like, “yeah, it is.”

And I said, “I think I need to think about this a little bit.” It felt a little bit like in Harry Potter when Snape makes the unbreakable curse with Draco Malfoy’s mom. That’s how it always felt a little bit like, oh, you can’t undo this one. So he was like, “well, let me give you this little pamphlet essentially to help you think about that a little bit… think about this a little bit more.”

And it was, if you’re familiar with religious pamphlets, which I’m sure we all are, maybe it was the four spiritual laws, and it’s kind of an old school pamphlet. The first law says God created the world. And then the second law was humans messed it up and kind of broke this relationship with God. And then the third law was Jesus came to repair that relationship. And then the fourth law sort of had this picture of people on one side of a chasm, on a cliff, and then there’s this, there’s this gap.

And then God is on the other cliff, and Jesus is a bridge, and you have to walk across the the bridge to get to God bridge. Yeah, that’s right. And so if you accept Jesus, then you can walk across the bridge and go say hello to be in relationship with God. And I was like, once or three kind of makes sense, but I do not understand how the math of number four works. So I just sat with that for a little while until I sat down with the children’s ministry director, because I’d been helping out with children’s ministry here and there, and she started saying all this stuff about Jesus again. And I thought, oh, she’s going to ask me the question. And so she did. “Would you like to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” And I said, “yes.” And nothing had really changed about my understanding other than it’s like these people seem happy. They seem like they have a sense of what life should look like, what they’re here for, what matters. And I just really didn’t have that in my own home life and upbringing, and thought, I still don’t understand this, but if accepting Jesus means that I can have that, then that’s what I want. And so in a way, how I ended up here as a pastor in one sense, there’s obviously a lot more since then, but that… that’s the launch pad for it.

Kate: And between Washington and California, you spent some time in other parts of the country as well, right?

Emily: Yeah, so I moved out to Chicago to seminary, a McCormick Seminary, a Presbyterian seminary, and thought I would be back in the Northwest after I finished my program, but ended up staying out there. And while I was there, just really came to understand myself. I mean, I thought seminary was sort of an advanced Bible study, and it turns out it’s like an actual legitimate graduate degree. So I ended up learning a lot more than I thought I would. I learned about things like systemic racism and oppression, and I learned about and began to think much more deeply and critically about my own identity as an Asian American woman and how that fits within the racial paradigm, that kind of black, white binary of us racial history. And the context of Chicago is such a tremendous space to really engage all of that because that’s like if not zero, then ground one for a lot of the movements for self-determination and dignity, whether it’s around racial identity or labor.

I just learned so much about how to think critically, not only spiritually about injustice, spiritual warfare coming from a more charismatic background, at least initially what seemed like spirits in the sky became much more concrete and real when you start talking about institutions and the ways in which structures conspire to oppress people groups and promote narratives and habits and cultures, ways of being. So a lot of that I learned while I was in seminary as part of my seminary education and also as part of just living in the area and being curious and learning and growing. And so when I graduated from seminary, I was also part of a program that supported Asian American young adults in ministry, which was where I spent a lot of my time learning some of this, particularly through my own self-identity lens. And I ended up directing that program.

And at that point I expanded to include African-American, Latino, Latina, Native American folks. I saw that program through for a couple of years and felt like this is good work, but I really wanted to be in congregational ministry, but was also really compelled by this idea of creating space where folks could bring their whole selves. And that being in a mixed race space, it was sort of like no one really gets to have a claim on the truth because there are just multiple truths at play. And it felt in a place that was majority people of color in a context where it was majority people of color, it felt very much very unthreatening or less threatening of like, oh, my experience is this and your experience is that, and these two things can live in tension even if they don’t agree. So I really wanted to create, I was really drawn to that.

And it was about that time that I came to meet one of the founding pastors of a Methodist church called Urban Village, and they were looking to plant a location on the South Side of Chicago, which was where I was. Side note, I was there when Obama won his first term and we saw the motorcade go by as he was going to his accepted speech. So I’m that old and that young, depending on your listenership, but yeah, so it was a really tremendous place to be in part of the city. And they were like, “yeah, we’re looking to launch our fourth location. We’re thinking about the South Side.” The church had done some work around anti-racism work and had this vision of being inclusive that initially was really around LGBTQ inclusion. And as the church grew, there were folks saying, “we say we have these values, but we’re in these predominantly white neighborhoods of the city. What’s up with that?” And so I happened to meet the leadership of the church about the same time those conversations were happening. And so they were considering this idea of planting all the South Side, and I really love the South Side. I loved the neighborhood, I loved the culture, I loved the people. It was beautiful and difficult and unique and special all at the same time. And I thought, I would love to be part of this because it was a kind of church that brought together sort of the best of what I had experienced and most compelling, what I had experienced around my evangelical spaces and what I found to be critical about the more theologically progressive spaces I was in and felt like this could be a place where our queer people of color could not feel like they had to check their race or their love at the door, but they could bring their whole selves in. Folks who asked too many questions, the wrong kind of questions that they could also belong, and that I could help create a space where people could authentically and deeply engage in a non-threatening way with the questions that were weighing on their heart.

So I ended up pastoring, planting and pastoring our Hyde Park Woodlawn location of Urban Village, launched in 2013 and was there until the summer of 22 where I moved out to San Francisco. I was ready for something different. And so it was about that time that not long after that that you and I met. Yes.

Kate: Yes.So we met in a group that it was meant to be a nationwide representation to be working together, but we were really the only two people in the West. And in our concluding, you had said something about that and I was like, oh, yeah. And it is a whole different viewpoint and lens to be bringing to what innovative ministry is, what even ministry is. And I think a part of why I wanted to have you on this season is because you are fluent in Cascadia culture. You grew up here, you came up in ministry in many ways in Chicago, Midwest, the capital of the Midwest, I’ll say, as someone from Michigan. But then now you’re rediscovering Cascadia culture, discovering ministry in Cascadia. And the perspective you bring to some of the differences between the regions and the relationship that the church has with its place in the city and in the culture. Could you speak to that a bit, how you think about or how you’ve experienced the differences of what it means to be a minister in Chicago versus here?

Emily:Yeah. One of the things that struck me very early on because I was involved with organizing work in Chicago was I was trying to figure out actually how did organizing work out here? Because partly in Chicago, there were organizations that organized clergy. So you can go as a clergy person and participate in, the one that I worked with in Chicago was called the Community Renewal Society, and they organized Chicagoland churches for broad level legislative change. So anything from raising the state minimum wage to banning the little checkbox on applications that declared whether or not you were a felon for certain applications for Johnson, that didn’t matter. And so you could easily plug in, and there was a lot of, it was kind of old school alinsky style organizing, if you’re familiar at all with that, those concepts. But a very power building, coalition building, working collaboratively on shared issues.

And so coming out here, I was trying to figure out what was going on in the organizing culture, at least in San Francisco. And I had a friend who actually I had worked with on a campaign in Chicago to bring a trauma center to the South Side, and he had happened to move out here. And so I got together with him and I was like, “okay, what’s going on with the organizing out here?” He is like, “no, it’s totally weird. It’s totally different.” As far as I can tell, there isn’t a whole lot of coalition building working across difference to try to find an issue or to cut an issue in a way that could be good enough at least to move the needle. But that actually every group is constantly vying for their proposal alongside everyone else’s, which can ultimately result in no one really winning.

And so that’s just sort of one thing that I saw that a.) The culture of organizing was really quite different out here. And along with that, then churches don’t seem to be that engaged whether or not the churches themselves might be interested, they’re not being engaged by organizations that are trying to make broad level change that could use the people power, that if you’ve got a congregation of a hundred people, that’s a hundred people that can be with you on your issue. And so I think that’s partly culture where it’s like churches are sort of looked at suspiciously. I think that they’re written off or dismissed. But I also think that my sense and observation has been that the churches have sort of preferred to be that way, that they haven’t been that involved. I mean, I can’t speak for the last 10 ish years in this area, but by and large, the churches have been sort of separate from politics in any meaningful way.

Now it’s, I think maybe in ways we prefer not to have them be involved, but by and large, the kind of activism I guess that I was used to at the intersection of faith and justice just didn’t seem to be here and active in the same way. And then along with that, being in a fairly progressive city, weirdly progressive city like San Francisco, one that’s sort of progressive, but also sort of not in some strange ways that there has been a certain amount of suspicion in churches about, and I think it’s not unfounded about progressives in terms of are you just here to talk a good game or are here actually to make a difference? And something like, for example, the lack of coalition building I feel like speaks to that of are you just trying to be progressive in all the ways that are performatively appropriate or make you look good, or are you actually trying to make a difference? And so me having to, working to both build trust in my congregation that not only these are issues that are worthy of engaging, but that to become active in them is not somehow a violation of your faith, but a legitimate and robust expression of your faith. That doesn’t mean you also are rejecting church at the same time while you’re pursuing justice. I don’t know, it’s a strange, I don’t know if I’m articulating that well, but… Yeah.

Kate: Yeah. Well, I think some of it gets knotty, entangled about it is because Seattle similar, like a very progressive city in many ways. And that’s changing kind of rapidly because of the migration here of tech workers and the wealth that comes with that. And then that changes some of the political values. But what gets knotty, I think, is the people who, statistically people who go to church tend to be your highest educated people, your highest educated people also tend to be your most liberal progressive people. So the people who are in churches are the very ones who you would think would be, yes, prosocial justice, prosocial change for a more equitable society, but then at the same time, not behaving in ways that would actually see those goals furthered in policies and practices in the really tangible, concrete ways. And the thing that I, a working hypothesis, maybe we’re quite distrustful of institutions, and so even as leaders of institutions, we’ll kind of be hesitant to join an institution that then is trying to organize our institutions, even though we are leaders of institutions, we know how this works. Does that have it resonates for you of something around joining an individualism?

Emily: Yeah. Yes. I think the individualism piece really resonates. I think in some ways I’m the wrong person because I, having been formed in ministry in a place that was very institutional, I grew to, I dunno if trust is the right way, but understand the value of that, that when you move collectively, you can make significantly more change than if you’re trying to do stuff on your own. And if you are trying to move collectively, that means you have to engage in generative re-imagining that might not always match up perfectly with what you would have wanted things to look like. But the nature of collective movement means we’re all kind of trying to move in the same direction, even if it’s not exactly in the shape or the pace that we would like it to take. And so I think I’ve had enough both experience working with these institutions of organizing folks, but also as a pastor trying to move my own community in different ways to help them learn and grow.

And I feel like I’ve really gained a lot of gifted gifts from my Buddhist friends where compassion is kind of that key word when you’re trying to help folks grow and learn and be transformed for God’s work in the world and to engage in the art of continuing to press people forward into the lives that God has created and called them to lead, to build the kind of world that God desires for us to build, but in a way that decouples it, I think from their status of belonging, right? Like you can still belong even if you’re not there with us in this. And I remember I still, a few years ago, I read an article and the title was “Excommunicate Me from the Church of Social Justice.” And I thought, what a powerful title that if you are not, I don’t know, if you don’t have your analysis, then somehow you’re out. Right?

And I am just one of the gifts of the church and the greatest technologies of a church is this concept called grace, right? That okay, we didn’t get it right this time, but that doesn’t mean I’m out. It just means we have to keep trying again and learn and grow and create spaces for grace and learning. And when we do that, not only do we help other people belong, but we are reminded that I can belong too if I mess up. And I think that sometimes folks who are so deeply committed and passionate about issues of justice, who so deeply long for change to happen sooner rather than later can sort of forget that we are imperfect and that we get it wrong sometimes, but actually we can also admit the ways in which we got it wrong and then try again. Yeah.

Kate: That learning and growth emphasis is such a strength of the church’s tradition and one that I think is really a gift to the world right now that has that perfection focus. And I mean, I feel that especially in progressive spaces where the language can change on you very rapidly, and the term that was the preferred term a month ago is now not the preferred term anymore. And can we inform people of that in a way that still lets them stay in the conversation and doesn’t all the little lifts that we’ve created in progressive movements. So how has being in San Francisco and ministering here, how has that shifted the ways that you practice your ministry? Are there… or ways that you understand yourself as a minister differently?

Emily: Yeah, I have realized much more, well, let me put it this way. I feel like I have leaned more into my role as a teacher…and this is partly why I decided to move into this, take this new ministry role, but it also has been a source of, I’ll say, a growing edge for me around how to explicitly make connections between the gospel and the person of Jesus and issues of not just social justice, but just contemporary questions. So for example, a few months ago did a sermon series on AI. And I thought, this is a perfect, the questions that AI is raising, these are aging questions. What kind of work do I want? What kind of world am I trying to build? What kind of life do I want to live? What kind of future should I work toward? These are old faith questions, but they’re being brought up in new ways or anxieties around. Those questions are being tapped in the midst of the advent and evolution of AI. And so I started this series and was talking about various concepts in AI and the ways that they might intersect with the particular topic for that week. And I started to get some grumblings I’ll say about, of picking up on some grumblings, I’ll put it that way, about what does this have to do with Jesus? What does AI have to do with Jesus?

And to me, and I think to most folks who are outside of church, they’d be like, oh, that sounds very interesting. I would be interested to explore these questions. But to people who come from a church culture that has been very Jesus centered explicitly and also quite narrow in its interpretation of what constitutes being a worthy conversation…

Kate: Very historically focused.

Emily: Yeah, historically focused, very self-focused self, let’s dare I say, optimizing. And so when I talk about some kind of broader concept and the, I think more philosophical questions that are attached to those broader concepts, it could be difficult for people to make the connection about what does this have to do with Jesus? What does this have to do with being a Christian? So that’s been a real learning for me just to realize, okay, I have to be explicit and I can’t just assume that people are going to know why this matters to my faith as opposed to just a very interesting intellectual question. Yes, that actually these things can inform one another and to give people not only resources to bear, but now also rationale for why, yeah, Jesus isn’t talking about AI, but Jesus is talking about what kind of world we should live in, what kind of life we should lead.

And so those are the questions that I have to make. I just have to draw those much more explicitly than I did when I felt like I was in the Midwest. It seemed like the culture, at least the cultures that I was in, had space for thinking about those questions and without me having to justify why we’re having those conversations.

Kate: Interesting. And part of that earlier we had touched on individualism, and some of that also feels the how do we construct our shared life together, not just our personal life.

Emily: Feels it’s a sub team. That’s right. It’s more than personal piety and how do I make sure that I’m doing it, but actually then getting into these conversations of what kind of world do I want to be a part of working to build with other people? I mean, part of it is, I’ll admit those are big questions that are sometimes not that actionable. And so that can feel disempowering and maybe even a bit of a downer to people who are used to like, okay, here are the next three things you can do to make it better. But actually there are some things, most things frankly, that are outside of our power, right?

Kate: Outside of our individual power. And that’s part of the reason that we join a community and then join those coalitions so that we can find that shared locus of agency. Yeah. You talked a bit about how Chicago and the African Asian American Women in Ministry program were helpful in your own sense of your identity and belonging in these communities, has that shifted since moving to San Francisco?

Emily: Yeah, that’s a great question. So it was a program that was just for Asian Americans, so not specifically for Asian American women. But I think that the thing about being in a place like Chicago, it is heavily, the politics are heavily black and white. The demographics are, there’s a pretty large silent Latino population, but probably it was a minority, but a large minority. But anyway, so what I gained a lot of frameworks for being able to talk about, think about and engage and make connections between justice and faith. And it was interesting to be able to do it as part of a program that was predominantly Asian-American in a city where Asian-Americans were very much a minority and dismissed in the conversations of justice and racial justice. So one of the things that I thought would be very interesting coming out here in San Francisco was even when I interviewed with the church, I looked around the congregation when I worshiped the Sunday that I was out there or out here I should say.

And I realized that 30% of the congregation was East Asian. And it just was a really interesting thing for me. I mean, I’ve been in predominantly white or predominantly black spaces, or predominantly Black and white, but not with such a large number of Asian Americans. And so since moving out here, it was a little bit confusing to have Asian culture be so present that in the school district out here, for example, you get Lunar New Year weekend off. And I was like, wow, that’s really interesting. And it’s San Francisco specific, but it was a strange kind of thing to be enough of a majority minority that you would be recognized. So that’s just personally sort of amazing. I’m thinking about my children, I’m like, they’re growing up in this city where this is just normal for them. What an amazing, strange thing. But as a pastor, it’s been interesting.

As a woman, I’m a little bit of an anomaly in one sense, but as an Asian American and as an Asian American woman, I mean I probably know at least half the Asian American female pastors in the Bay Area, but it’s been, I feel like I can minister to my Asian American congregants in a way that is really different than if they’ve been in Evangelical spaces with a White guy up front because they’re so used to having their stories not acknowledged or not count. And when I talk with them, I happen to might share like, oh, my mom’s family fled China during the cultural or during the communist takeover and grew up as a refugee in Taiwan. I’ve had so many conversations with people where that has been the case in their own families too. If not that, then other stories of geopolitical displacement due to war. And it’s just a really been, for me personally, a very moving thing to, and a real privilege to be able to create space for my congregants who are Asian American who have those experiences, but so often don’t have space for them to be acknowledged in any non solidified way, but to, I know what that means for their family trauma and their family story, and they don’t have to explain it to me.

Kate: And for that sense of belonging that you touched on earlier, that it’s a way to see and connect and have a deeper knowing in a context that often doesn’t, I shouldn’t say know how to do it, but it’s not our first way of being with each other in that individualized context.

Emily: And I think a lot of Asian Americans in particular, so if they’re second generation or even more removed, so often feels like you either go to an Asian American church that’s immigrant or not immigrant, but generally much more theologically conservative. Or if you have moved into a more inclusive or progressive space, theologically, you have to go to a White church. So then you either choose, this is similar to the congregation that I was trying to cultivate in Chicago, where you either choose your racial identity or your theological commitment. Which one do you need more?

Kate: That’s painful. It feels like an impossible choice,

Emily: And it’s a false choice, and it doesn’t have to be that way, but it’s kind of what so often is presented to folks as options. Yeah.

Kate: Since moving back to the West Coast, what is something new that you are discovering about yourself as a pastor?

Emily: Yeah. I think the context I was in Chicago was just a very progressive space. And so a lot of things were focused on around inclusion that in the ways that I appreciated about it, that no one has the right answer. Everyone sort of has pieces of the right answer. And so since moving out here, I’ve been able to, I’ve realized what a privilege it has been, not only just in general to serve in a space like that, but also to be formed in a context like that that didn’t question my authority or belonging or location as a woman or as a non-white person. But that actually I had a voice that was worth listening to, which sounds a little bit pathetic when I say that out loud, but that I could push back and be pushed back on and we could learn and grow and be iron that sharpened iron.

Since moving out here, I’ve realized what a bubble that was in particularly as a women in ministry, when I see other folks who to, I mean, I remember this actually from when the church that I became a Christian in that there were apologetics classes for the men only that women were not taking any of those classes. And I always thought like, oh, that’s kind of curious, but I was still young and new in faith, and so I didn’t think about it too much. But since coming out here, all of the subtle ways in which women are undermined, dismissed, not heard, very typical things that you hear in people talk about in corporate spaces and corporate culture, and I think also other church cultures, but somehow I missed it. So being out here, I become much more aware of it. The ways in which women are sometimes harder on women and more judgmental of women in leadership than men are that there are all kinds of strange latent kind of resentments that come out.

And that also, so beyond that, just people feel so much more comfortable, I’ll put it that way, to point out the ways that either they don’t agree with you or you’re wrong or you messed up on a thing. And I’m like, yeah, that might be true, but also I am pretty sure you would’ve not been that quick about coming at me with it. And these are things that can’t necessarily be, they’re not as concrete, they’re not quite measurable, but you can kind of sniff it out a little bit. So that sort of has taught me off guard a little bit. But I’m grateful because, and I have folks say like, oh, well, her preaching’s not biblical enough. I could say, let me show you the manuscript, because I do preach from a manuscript and I can draw a line between each concept that I’m lifting up and the scripture passage that we read today.

I’m grateful that I have the confidence in my own competence that I spent 10 years in ministry where people were not abnormally, I’ll say people were not abnormally questioning my authority, my intellect, my capacity to lead at that, such that when I’m out here and I get some of that, I can kind of suss out what’s legitimate and what just isn’t. I’ve just had tell folks there might be an issue with, maybe I’m not explaining this well enough, maybe I, and not being explicit enough about some of these connections, which is what I was sort of talking about earlier. But it’s not because I’m not biblical and it’s not because I’m not a good preacher, because people, I have won awards, I’ve had people ask me to guess preach all over the country, so that’s not the issue. And I can have enough self-confidence in my own ability to sort of say, it could be something else though, that’s fine, but let’s actually get at what it’s, so that’s been kind of a new learning for me. 

Kate: Yeah, I love that phrase, confidence and competence. It gives some flesh that deep inner security that I feel in you, and also it feels like a very necessary inner gift in reality to be able to do ministry from such a leadership position, such a visible leadership position.

As our concluding question, I wanted to ask you to share one of your questions with us, because the Christ and Cascadia gathering is going to be very question forward, and we are being very clear that we aren’t here to offer answers. We aren’t here with five easy steps. We are not here with really, we’re not here as expertise. We’re here as gatherers of people who are practicing ministry, practicing loving their neighbors. And so we’re gathering around questions and encouraging people to share their questions. What questions do you have that you are living into with your life or that you are hoping to connect with other people about?

Emily: I love this question, and I think one of the things that I am realizing more and more about my goals in ministry for my people wherever it is that I serve, is to increase liberation, to increase people’s sense, to live into the freedom in Christ that God wants for them, that God is holding out for them, if only they would grab hold of it, but they have to let go of something else in order to grab hold of it. And I think my question is how do I, and this is for practitioners, I think how do you continually call folks forward into their liberation and in a way that is about what they are made for, but also realistic? And I don’t know if tamed is the right way to put it, but tempered, maybe that’s a better way to put it, tempered in the knowledge that they will only do what they’re willing to do. So to me, there’s a kind of eagerness check that has to happen. I’m like, if only you would, and so how do you sort of manage that? I guess maybe that’s a pastoral question. How do you manage expectations without compromising expectations, if that makes sense.

Kate: It reminds me of that TS Eliot line, because between the idea and the reality falls the shadow, and it strikes me as a question of that shadow. How do we hold the ideals but also face the realities and know that there’s going to be a chasm between those two, but keep going anyway.

Emily: Yeah. What keeps you, because can’t be, I mean, for me, so it can’t be my desire, my goals for them can’t keep me going. Right. 

Kate: Because as you won’t be disappointed. 

Emily: That’s right. As my therapist would remind me, you can’t do someone else’s work for them, right? It’s like you have to let them do theirs, but then

Kate: To which, I say, watch me. Right?

Emily: Right. So that’s one question. I think the other one is what is it that keeps you from, what is a practice, a concrete practice that prevents you from being overcome by the despair of the world?

Kate: That’s an excellent question. Especially for this season in an era kind of sense that this era that we’re living into figuring out what it is, and I think we’ll let the question be our last word. Yeah. Thank you so much for being with us today.

Emily: Thank you for the invitation. This was lovely. And love what you’re doing.

Kate: Thank you.