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Why I Joined the STS

9February2012

The most important thing I have done to grow as a pastor occurred in October of 2008, when I subscribed to the Rule of the Society of the Holy Trinity (also known as the STS – Societas Trinitatis Sanctae). At its core, the Society helps pastors to fulfill their ordination vows. By subscribing to a Rule, we are making a commitment; to God, to ourselves, and to our brothers and sisters in the Society.  We agree to hold one another accountable and to support one another.

By holding my feet to the fire over my prayer life, the importance of confession and absolution, and the like, I am better able to practice what I preach.  A dirty little secret in ministry is that many pastors have a horrible prayer life.  It is not our intent to not pray; but somehow the ministry of prayer is easily pushed aside.  So much of what is done in other professions (seemingly) has an immediate, tangible benefit, that pastors sometimes feel as though they need to spend more time and attention on those parts of our work which produce immediate, tangible benefits – planning Bible Studies or sermon writing, writing down long range planning, even making visits has an immediate impact.  But prayer?  We already feel as though somehow our work is less (even jokingly said, one can only hear, “You only work one hour a week!” so many times before feeling undervalued), so taking the time to pray just doesn’t happen like it should.  My membership in the Society helps keep prayer in front of me.

Also important has been the camaraderie I have found in STS.  There is no place where I feel more comfortable with fellow pastors than at a STS Retreat.  Not at continuing education events.  Not at conference gatherings.  Certainly not at synod assemblies.  My cluster in Ohio was the closest, but even then, not quite.  That is not to say that all STS members are in lock-step with one another.  Some of the jokes are not far from reality (calling STS folks a Black Shirt Brigade, or the liturgy police, or Q:  What’s the difference between a terrorist and a liturgist?  A:  You can negotiate with a terrorist); some are overly afraid of technology; some move beyond criticism to attacks of their respective denominations… but, if you asked, I am sure some would have their own fair criticisms of me, too.  No group is perfect, but in the STS I have a brotherhood where those differences do not rise above our similarities.

Christian community is important.  It is vital for the health of a disciple.  The Society of the Holy Trinity is a place for me to be a part of an intentional Christian community where I can focus on living into the Rule which support my ordination vows, ultimately making me a better pastor.  Ideally Christian communities help us, support us, challenge us, and grow us so that we can better live out our vocations, whatever those vocations may be.  That’s why there are Mother’s Clubs and Men’s Bible Studies and youth groups and all the rest in congregations – so we can better live out our vocations.  If you have not yet found that place, let me encourage you to find it.  While the specifics of my story and the STS won’t match with many others, the general theme will.  Ask around.  Find that community.  You’ll be grateful.

KMF@STS

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