Contributed by Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference
Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference (PSMC) licensed Katerina Friesen for ministry on the banks of the San Joaquin River in Fresno, California on March 7, 2021. Friesen was joined by friends, family and members of the Wild Church community, which she leads.
Wild Church, Fresno, is a Mennonite Church USA church plant inspired by the Watershed Discipleship movement and connected to the Wild Church Network, a group of congregations that meets outdoors, seeking to deepen relationships with God, community and creation.
Gordon Smith, chair of the Pastoral Leadership Committee of PSMC, and Stanley Green, executive conference minister, presided in the licensing. Words of blessing (below) were shared by Sheri Hostetler, pastor at First Mennonite Church of San Francisco (California) and Friesen’s mentor. The ceremony included a time of contemplative wandering near the river and concluded with communion led by Friesen. Two mallard ducks joined at the end of the service.
Those gathered blessed Friesen, as she leads the congregation in a particular call to care for God’s good creation as central to the divine purpose of liberating and restoring all of creation.
Blessing by Sheri Hostetler, pastor, First Mennonite Church of San Francisco
On those days you feel the weight of your ministry to be heavy on your shoulders,
may the winged ones remind you of the lightness of being.
On those days when you feel the slightness of your contribution against the incomprehensible largeness of ecological collapse and mass extinction,
may the plants remind you that everything starts as small as a seed.
On those days when you feel the loneliness of leadership,
may the trees remind you that it is impossible to be separate from the communion of life.
On those days when you feel the deep despair of the world’s pain,
may the waters ground your sorrow in their ever-flowing streams.
And on those days when your creativity is low and your energy is depleted,
may the earth rock you in her cradle until you can feel your full breath again.
May your ministry bring you and us more fully into the kindom of God’s good creation.
May we, through your gifts, see and take our rightful place as humans —
as beings humble and low to the ground,
who touch the earth, knowing we are of it;
as beings made in the image of the Creator;
as beings brought to life by the breath of Spirit;
as beings invited into Beloved Community and onto the path of shalom by Jesus.
May you be given every good gift you need to do the ministry to which you are called.
We need you, and we love you.