Jesus said to his disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation”.1 This good news was radical; a gift offering liberation, grace, reconciliation, discipleship, and a future hope. As those called to lead today’s Church, we know well this gift and this command to GO—both, spur and buoy us for the arduous journey. The resurrected Christ spoke these words to a scared, uncertain, stubborn lot gathered around a table. I venture that this table scene resonates.
This multi-elemental charge—go, preach, good news, all—bends by humanity’s contextual whims, or so we try. Surely, each of us can pontificate on all the ways these components are clouded, twisted in the 21st century Church. As those called to go, how do we do so unbent, amidst continual assault: societal chaos, mores of hatred and violence, a seeming culture of fading faith, morality, and authentic relationship? How do we do so preserving our own created wholeness?
Several years ago three seminarians were compelled: how do we stay quenched and satiated while sharing the living water and bread of life with so many; how do we endure; how do we stay joyful; and how can this seminary community be a sojourner and a pillar? This discernment continued in a feasts’ and fasts’ fashion well beyond the time of their cap and gown procession. In March of 2020, the Alumni Care Initiative of Palmer Theological Seminary was born. Its ministry, tenderly gestated by the Spirit, was simple—care and connection.
Jesus said to his disciples, scared and gathered behind a locked door, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”2 We are sent to be and to do in the same manner as Christ. Gunter Krallmann expounds Christ’s formational model of with-ness.3 Jesus loved, equipped, and proclaimed by living with people, walking with people, eating with people, suffering with people, rejoicing with people. He built relationships not programs. He prioritized being while still doing—together. One must GO out of one’s own with-ness with the Lord.
The Alumni Care Initiative sojourned with the alumni community—international, ecumenical, diverse leaders of the Church—throughout tumultuous societal, ministerial, and personal times. It offered one-to-one listening and prayer, small gatherings and retreats, connected alumni-to-alumni, and reconnected them to their sacred, set-apart seminary community. After two years of communal discernment, care, and connection, the way was made clear to establish the Center for Alumni Care and Seminary Engagement—CARES.
CARES was born of the Spirit, communal discernment, the generosity of alumni, and the gift of a Lilly Endowment Grant. CARES is committed to animating Palmer’s mission by continuing to nurture whole persons to GO and share the whole gospel in the whole world. CARES’ ministry remains elementally simple—care and connection. May it be a pillar for all to see.
We often find ourselves like the disciples—scared, uncertain, stubborn, hiding—how do we GO? We go just like they did—together, full of the Spirit. We be and do like them, like Jesus showed—with one another, with and in Christ. It is hard, but we have been given a table at which to gather, a space in which to huddle, a people and a God with whom to journey. We are not alone, now or ever.
1 Mark 16:15
2 John 20:21
3 Gunter Krallmann, Mentoring for Mission: A Handbook on Leadership Principles Exemplified by Jesus Christ, (Tyrone, GA: Authentic Publishing, 2002).
Christen Blore, MSN, MDIV ‘18 began seminary studies after an almost two-decade career in nursing. She serves the Palmer community as Chaplain and Director of CARES. Christen is an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and serves at Eastern University as Adjunct Faculty in the Theology Department.