Oklahoma pastor chosen for Council of Bishops initiative
The Council of Bishop has announced the names of 10 young adults selected as the next cohort of United Methodist Ecumenical and Interreligious Training: Young Adult Network (UMEIT: YAN).
Rev. Katie Paul, pastor of Stillwater-Highland Park and Eden Chapel, will be a part of the 2022-23 cohort. Paul said she learned about the initiative through social media and recognized a colleague who had been in a previous cohort. She reached out to learn more and applied soon after.
“Serving as a young female clergy person in a rural Oklahoma community, I am reminded that my presence at the table for theological conversation is not a given. There are some who do not and will not recognize authority given to me through my ordination,” Paul said. “With half of the cohort residing outside the United States and some having served as Global Mission Fellows through our General Board of Global Ministries, I know I have a lot to learn from my peers about the breadth and depth of commonality and challenge on issues facing religious traditions around the world.”
UMEIT: YAN is part of several initiatives of the Council of Bishops in leading The United Methodist Church into living more fully into Christian unity and into deepening our interreligious relationships. Paul said having close relationships with people of different faiths was an important part of her religious formation. She hopes to build on her personal experience to forge and deepen relationships between small-town churches in different contexts.
“Our very rural areas may well see a growing number of these collaborations in the future,” Paul said. “When we have honest and open conversations about what we bring to the partnership, we can form stronger and long-lasting relationships that serve as a witness to the rest of the community and the world about the God in whom we believe.”
Selected young adults meet together regularly via zoom with Ecumenical Staff Officer Rev. Jean Hawxhurst for worship, leadership development, learning about the Ecumenical and Interreligious Movements, and creating ministry projects in their contexts.
They will create a group covenant, read four books, develop ministry action plans, and cultivate community among themselves. The participants also meet together face-to-face once a year as a part of their process of growing as excellent leaders in the Ecumenical and Interreligious Movements on behalf of The United Methodist Church.
One of the project subjects Paul wants to explore is using art to create community bonds. She is considering engaging with young artists to create an art installation. Creating art that expresses what faith means in the life of each artist can create a community-wide ecumenical conversation.
“Religious art and spiritual artistic expressions are a way to access deeper issues and find commonly held beliefs,” Paul said. “I feel that artistic expression goes beyond what words alone can communicate, and I believe using the medium of art can give a wider vocabulary for ecumenical and interreligious work.”
Those selected for the 2022-2023 cohort of UMEIT: Young Adult Network will begin their work in March. They are laity and clergy, male and female, and live their faith in Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States.
“Having tools for faithful and fruitful conversation will help build Christian unity,” Paul said. “Working toward the same goal, we can accomplish abundantly more for God’s glory.”
UMEIT: Young Adult Network is one of six different United Methodist Ecumenical and Interreligious Trainings (UMEIT). All are outlined on the bishops’ webpage at www.unitedmethodistbishops.org. Search for UMEIT under the “Ecumenical” tab or contact Dr. Hawxhurst directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.