By Rev. Beth Abbott
The Rev. Beth Abbott, Pastor of First Congregational UCC in South Milwaukee, WI, shares how her life has been transformed during her almost-completed 10-year journey with the Next Generation Leadership Initiative (NGLI). Rev. Abbott is a participant in the inaugural cohort, NGLI*1. Read Rev. Abbot’s letter of gratitude below.
When I began Next Generation Leadership Initiative (NGLI), the idea of a ten-year commitment to anything seemed unusual and rather long. Starting in my 20s, I had only been doing three-to-four-year chunks of schooling (college, seminary) and just dating my now husband, Rich.
Now, I look back and not only has my life changed (married, mortgage, Mommy, multiple calls), but I have too—both personally and professionally. This leadership initiative has profoundly equipped me with skills and tools to lead the church toward its future and further Jesus’ ministries of transformation, justice, healing, and hope. Truly, there is not a day (nor an hour!) that goes by in my ministry where I am not utilizing what I have learned in this program: family systems, communication and personality types, adaptive leadership, trauma-informed care, and so much more.
Every year for the last ten years, I prayerfully prepared a learning covenant—taking pause to be in conversation with God and others to identify ways in which I needed to grow or be nourished. I cannot begin to fully express my gratitude for then being gifted the financial means to attend trainings from top-notch facilitators (that otherwise may have been cost prohibitive for me or for the churches I have served), including Richard Blackburn, Linda Burrs, Sharon Parks, and Susan Beaumont.
The program has also gifted me a powerfully, supportive enriching cohort of fellow UCC young clergy from across the country, who has and will continue to help me become the pastoral leader God calls me to be. I give thanks to God, to the visionaries and contributors like you who make (and made) this program possible. It is truly life-saving and life-giving. As Anne LaMott offers in her book, ‘Help Thanks Wow,’ “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”