Share Your Story
by the Rev. Laura V. Queen
Noted author Pat Conroy once said that the most powerful words in the English language are “Tell me your story.” At this year’s Chaplains to the Retired Triennial conference in Denver, Colorado, with “Sharing in the Story” as our theme, these words could not have been more true. Story sharing is the foundation of our ministry, and we have woven together tales of boundless joy and distressing challenge.
These vivid accounts have covered being welcomed into a pastoral relationship with a former seminary classmate, finding a lost cleric who had moved across the country, providing comfort to surviving spouses, and the care of a long-forgotten bishop.
Words have allowed us to witness new love and romance, debilitating illness and death, and happy reunions with family and friends.
We have heard of worry and woe about health and physical well-being, the freedom that comes from downsizing, the stress of moving and relocating, and concerns about finances.
We have listened to tales of travel adventures and horrors, of redeployment, permanent supply work, and opportunities for new ministries, and of milestones achieved, from birthdays and weddings to funerals.
As religious leaders, we know that your stories of faith, hope, love, challenge, and resilience are the foundation of the Church. And a strong foundation, of course, is essential to the future prosperity and significance of our denomination.
Ann Weems writes this in a liturgy for children:
"Children of God, God affirms your childlikeness, your spontaneity, your wonder, God affirms your inquisitiveness, your joy in the abundant life, your humbleness and your unashamed love of the Lord. Each of you is a child of God, and God knows your name. God knows when you skin your knees or your heart God knows when you catch a butterfly or cry in the darkness. Go, Children, out where the sun shines on your faces. Go out into God’s abundance and tell the story of a Christ who would claim each person as a beloved child. Go and kiss the hurts of this world, Go and laugh in the fields of God, for you are God’s children, inheritors of God’s grace and God’s love."
We are all God’s children, made in the likeness and image of God, and we each have stories that weave God’s love into the fabric of our lives and into our communities. Our stories can bring light and hope into a world that desperately needs to embrace history, tradition, and hope. In sharing our stories, they become fully ours. They can help us heal our hearts and our relationships. By giving away some of our deepest truths and insights, we become connected to those who take the time to listen.
So, whenever the opportunity arises, I urge you to share your story, for all who have ears to hear, so that they too will understand the power and grace of a life faithfully lived, a life of service to the Episcopal Church.
Tell Us Your Story
Stories celebrate our identity and solidify our traditions. Your tales of ministry and those of our retirees are too valuable not to be recorded, written, and shared. I challenge you to record your story. Why? Because our story is essential to who we are and to the story of Jesus and Jesus’ love. Please speak with your Chaplain to the Retired or contact me if you would like more information regarding sharing your story through StoryCorp.
We also invite retired clergy and lay employees, their spouses, and surviving spouses to submit their written stories for possible publication in an upcoming issue of CPG’s Vintage Voice. For submission details, please see Tell Us Your Story.
The Rev. Laura V. Queen is the Church Pension Group’s Assistant Vice President of Pastoral Care on the Education and Wellness team. Laura has served as a rector, associate rector, chaplain to Episcopal retirement communities, and a missioner for youth and camping in the Dioceses of Massachusetts and Los Angeles. Laura commutes from her home in Stratford, Connecticut, to her office in New York, where she enjoys working and traveling with her CPG team. She has been married to her supportive spouse for 25 years.