Boundary Crossing: Leadership and Relationship at Glenn and Emory

It is difficult to find adequate words to describe the past 11 years that I and my family have been honored to serve, learn, grow, and be in ministry with the Emory and Glenn Memorial community. It has been so very good - from walking and biking the back roads of Oakdale, The By Way, and Lullwater to traversing the labyrinth of sidewalks, stairs, and green spaces of Emory’s campus to sitting in the sacred spaces of Cannon Chapel, the Glenn Sanctuary, and the Little Chapel to serving in the wider Atlanta community alongside some of the most remarkable, learned, humble, and faithful people.

My journey in ministry has been one that demonstrates God’s faithfulness through the mentorship and guidance of so many who have helped me to progress from a worship attendee to Candler Intern to Associate Pastor to The Gathering's Music Coordinator to Wesley Fellowship Director. I have cherished working with and learning alongside the leaders of these communities and the opportunities for ministry together with students, children, senior adults, and everyone in between.

The connections between local churches and young adults in general, and college students specifically, has never been more important than now - a time where the United Methodist Church has so much to offer in the world in regard to how to live into the tension between ideas - after all, we are “both-and” people who are trained to resist the false dichotomies of dualistic thinking. We are called to listen for and envision a third way. Intergenerational ministry opportunities like the ones Emory Wesley and Glenn Memorial have shared over the past decade of my time and the many years before that offer so much to the students and Glenn members and the wider community. There is a mutualistic giving and receiving present in the act of working alongside one another - whether that be bagging food at Intown Food Pantry, packing meals into backpacks together on Thursday nights, reading Dr. King’s Dream Speech at Branan Towers, sharing lunch on the grounds on a sunny afternoon following Glenn-Emory Day worship, or simply walking alongside one another through the highs and lows of community life.

 Emory Wesley students gathering for fellowship.

Emory Wesley students gathering for fellowship.

 Glenn Church and Emory Wesley visit Branan Towers together.

Glenn Church and Emory Wesley visit Branan Towers together.

 Emory Wesley in Selma, AL.

Emory Wesley in Selma, AL.

In the past three years of my Doctor of Ministry research and coursework, it has been further made clear to me that relationships are what ground us in God’s love. (Read more on my Doctoral work at Candler here). The divine dance of the Trinity demonstrates God’s self-giving and mutualistic model of relationships. These important, boundary crossing relationships are what help us to build places of belonging, community, and, ultimately, transformation. We carry what we learn from these relationships as they continue to shape us into the people we are today.

In June I will begin a new season of ministry as I will be appointed to serve as Associate Pastor at Oak Grove UMC. At Emory Wesley, we have a relational leadership development model, which I share often (perhaps ad nauseam), called the “Rainbow Model[1]:”

1) I do this and you enjoy it,
2) I do this and you help,
3) You do this and I help, and
4) You do this (inviting others), and I move on.

And so we now enter the 4th step of this leadership model as my time comes to a close at Emory Wesley Fellowship. I have full confidence in our student leaders, our Advisory Board, and the newly named Emory Wesley Director, Mr. Jason Grubbs.

Frances, Ali, and I will cherish the relationships formed with the people and staff of Glenn, the students of Emory Wesley, and the wider Emory University community. Thank you for your continued support of Emory Wesley and our ministry together in the Emory Community.

Grace and peace,

Rev. Dr. Joseph McBrayer

 

[1] L. David Stone, ed., Catching the Rainbow: A Total Concept Youth Ministry (Nashville: Abingdon, 1981).