A Conversation with Betsey Moe

Betsey Moe is the Pastor for Worship and Adult Education at Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church. She has been ordained since 2003 and loves that ministry looks different each day. Betsey enjoys singing, writing, traveling, and cooking. She and her husband Eric, a symphony musician, have three children.

How do you approach the preaching task during a season of anxiety?

Betsey: I try to be as honest as possible with myself about what I feel anxious about and what I hear others are anxious about and not be afraid to give voice to it. When I read and study a text, I think, “Where does the rubber hit the road here? If I were in a pew, what thoughts would I have going through my mind as I came to church and then as I heard this scripture passage read?”

Describe how “Being the Body” came together for you.

Betsey: After the departure of the Pastor-Head of Staff at our church, I felt like I was “overhearing” people’s opinions about it all the time. I became aware of the fact that while some people were grieving, others were not emotionally impacted. So then the challenge became, how do I preach to a group of people who are processing the change in different ways? And how do I speak about something so important, so tender, in a way that would be received?

Narrative seemed to be the answer; I know that when I hear a story, I know it’s not about me, yet it’s all about me. Because stories are playful and imaginative, they give us space to plug ourselves in and try the emotions on for size. And so I started writing about characters based on some of the opinions I had overheard in the church — and as those stories stood side by side, I realized that leaving them that way could help people see and understand different perspectives. I suppose that bringing the three characters together around a table at the end might have seemed contrived and unrealistic, but I thought, “Why not? It’s a story!”

As an associate pastor what was most challenging (or surprising) to you about working with an interim head of staff pastor?

Betsey: It was challenging to adapt to a new system, a new schedule of meetings, and to have new-found congregational anxiety to deal with on top of the regular routines. It took extra energy during a time when I felt a bit deflated and unsure about my own sense of call. However, I was refreshed by the chance to question the way things “had always been done”; in many cases, I had known that change had been needed for a long time, but there hadn’t been the opportunity to try something new. I also appreciated that Shari respected us (pastors and program staff) as colleagues from Day 1 and greatly valued our experience and perspectives.

In what way did you grow as a pastor during this time?

Betsey: I think I mostly grew in courage as we as a staff took risks and tried new things!

Any advice for people who are anxious about interim ministry?

Betsey: I would tell people to not see an interim period as a kind of “dead zone” in a church’s history where nothing significant can happen. It’s really just the opposite; church members and staff alike can grow in self-understanding and in FAITH more during an interim than in times of peaceful routine.

(Note: Betsey and Shari served together at Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church in Spokane Washington from September 2014 through February 2016.)

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