From the Center for Social Ministry’s blog, Building Bridges, Building Hope – 

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

In this weekend’s Gospel reading, the Apostles have been busy witnessing and teaching, so Jesus invites them to take a break; to rest for little while.  They all load into a boat to make their way to a deserted place where they can be alone, but people proceed to follow them on foot and actually arrive before them.

I’m feeling a little bit like Jesus and the Apostles right now!  While summer is ordinarily a time when I “climb in my boat” and look for ways to rejuvenate my body and soul, this summer God has had other plans for me.

In April, I accepted the position of Executive Director of JustFaith Ministries.  For the last 16 years, I’ve been facilitating and coordinating JustFaith and other JustFaith Ministries programs in the Des Moines, Iowa area.  The last seven years of this time has been spent as the Executive Director of the Center for Social Ministry; an organization founded by JustFaith graduates.

The mission of JustFaith Ministries is to build a network of individuals compelled by the Gospel to create a more just and peaceful world. It’s been an honor and a privilege to work alongside some amazing individuals in the Des Moines area who have been doing just that!  But, now it’s time to climb in my boat and sail on to JustFaith Ministries where I will be joined by an amazing staff and more than 50,000 individuals who have participated in our programs and have also been changing their communities – changing our world – for the better.

As the incoming Executive Director of JustFaith Ministries, I have three primary goals…  The first is to continue the great work Jane Walsh has done over these past five years.  Jane has been a wonderful leader and we will greatly miss her on staff!  The second is to continue building the network of individuals who are impacting their communities and our world, by continuing to use our programs to educate and form small groups in our Gospel call to live a radical sense of compassion.  And, the third is to be a beacon of hope in a time when it is easy to be defeated by the needs of the world; easy to be defeated by the divisiveness in our world.  Our programs are designed to cultivate dialogue and are written with the belief that positive change can happen through relationship-building.

In a time when it is very tempting to get in our boats and sail away to a deserted place where nothing will bother us, there is too much in this world in need of healing.  Join me as we continue to transform people… who will transform the world.

Susie

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

–From the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)