Nathaniel and Sarah -- Summer 2010

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Summer is winding through its warm and lazy course in the woods of Wisconsin. July was oppressively hot and muggy; the sort of weather that prompts one to sit back and sip lemonade or iced tea, and swat at mosquitoes. But it seems Sarah and I have done everything but relax!

Sarah has been keeping up with her two jobs (one in the Admissions Office at Nashotah House and one in the Preschool program of a local Christian school). In fact, she has managed to add a few hours for the summer months. She’s also kept a busy social calendar with the Nashotah spouses, many of whom are “CPE widows” as their husbands are off doing intensive internships.

After spending the month of June in Colorado Springs for discernment and volunteering at the VA, I’ve been conscripted to sweat off some of my tuition by doing odd-jobs around campus. On top of that, I took an amazing summer-term course on the “Theological Anthropology of the Eastern Church Fathers” with Fr. John Behr, one of the world’s leading Patristics scholars. This schedule has been full, fulfilling and rewarding, it unfortunately hasn’t left a lot of time for me to attack the summer reading list!

Vocational Steps

The conclusion of my time of discernment in the Springs was that we need to formally step outside of the Anglican Mission, for at least a while. The landscape of the Anglican Communion is changing quite rapidly and quite drastically, and so I feel that having a breadth of connection is vital. We’re going to be spending this next season in prayer for and reflection on our vision and missional trajectory, and looking to build the kind of relationships and networks that will nurture and support us as we take careful and faithful steps in that direction.

Nevertheless, through our growth this past semester, we do feel that God has given us a clearer sense of our internal vocation — who God is calling us to be. Community life, in particular, still speaks to both of us — and even louder after a year of living through the messiness of its practical reality. Community is something we want to continue to emphasize through our life together.

Sarah is still exploring, and whatever our next stage is, we want to make sure that there is space and support for her to pursue that.

I remain torn between directions of pastoral and academic ministry. I experience, on the one hand, a restlessness to put this knowledge I am accumulating to work in loving, teaching, serving, and supporting people. On the other hand, I have a thirst for knowledge that only seems to deepen as I drink from the wisdom of the ancients. Nevertheless, we feel our prayers and conversations have been moving in an increasingly academic direction, and we are beginning to seriously consider the possibility that our next adventure may be guided by the pursuit of another round of schooling.

Of course, exactly how this all works out in the context of our “careers,” in contemporary terms; how it integrates with the practicalities of paying the bills, having a family and finding/building community, remains to be seen. We are working to figure it out, but we also trust God and what He has in store for us.

Spiritual and Church Life

Spring semester was an immensely fruitful time for us spiritually speaking as we grew in knowledge of God and of each other and became connected with a local church.

As of our last update, we had not yet found a local church community. But shortly thereafter, in January, we finally found our way to our Southern Wisconsin church home, which has been a tremendous blessing. The church is “Bread of Life;” a little congregation that flies the banner of the Charismatic Episcopal Church, a fairly new denomination born out of the convergence of Catholic, Evangelical, and Charismatic perspectives in the pro-life movement.

Even more amazingly, the rector, Fr. Chris, works at the school with Sarah and his daughter was in her preschool class this year!

The church been a great fit for us. Both of us are being fed there, and we both have found opportunities to serve the community. Sarah has been singing with the worship team, and I have been chanting the weekly psalm.

Upcoming Adventures

This next year is going to be a great adventure. We look forward to continuing our ministry of hospitality to our fellow students as the new crop arrives. In particular, we want to do what we can to build relational bridges between students of Anglo-Catholic persuasion, and those of Evangelical disposition and background.

I came to Nashotah House with a particular intuition about the tools that the Anglo-Catholic tradition might offer in reaching a postmodern, post-Christian world with the Gospel, and I feel like those intuitions have deepened over my time here. This year I want to start road testing them. I am working to put together a guild of “street preachers” so that we can experiment with evangelism using the particular charisms of our tradition. Thus far, I’ve preached a couple of open-air sermons at the Farmers’ Market in Madison, which, while it may not have converted many heathen, certainly had a profound impact on me.

Finally, I have received a modest grant from the Fund for Theological Education which is to be used (in part) for a project of “personal development” next summer. Sarah and I are praying about and planning how we will employ those funds to further our personal and vocational development.

Prayer Requests

Please continue to keep us in your prayers. Here are some specific ways that you can intercede on our behalf.

  • Pray that the Holy Spirit will direct and inhabit our ministries on and off campus, that we may do those things we are called and required to do with integrity, diligence and proficiency, that so, through our obedience, many lives may be touched with the love of Jesus.
  • Pray for our continued discernment, that God would in all things guide our decision making processes, and that, where we are in specific need of his guidance, he would speak clearly to us, and we would be diligent to listen.
  • Pray for our financial provision. Work and scholarships are taking care of a significant portion of our expenses, but nevertheless, we are estimating that we will need to raise an additional $20,000 over the next two years to graduate without the burden of debt from seminary. While we are open to student loans as a means of provision, the added debt will drastically limit our options for ministry.

If the Spirit so moves you, we can accept tax-deductible donations. Contact us for more information, or you can read more here

  • Pray for our wise and consistent use of time through the remainder of the summer and into the fall term. We consistently find that we have many more good things to do than the hours of the day allow!

Please also keep us abreast of your prayer requests, as it would give us great pleasure to intercede for you.

Nashotah House remains a peaceful and refreshing atmosphere, and our guest bedroom empty ninety percent of the time. We’d love to have you come and visit and share for a while in our life here, and in what God is doing in us and among us.

As the year gets going, we're hoping to overhaul our website, and maybe post more regularly (particularly if I can retread some school work). But no promises! Life tends to be much busier than we ever expect!

Peace, love and joy to you,

Nathaniel and Sarah

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