By Meghan Hatcher
Since returning from London in August, I have felt a contradictory mix of restlessness and stillness. I am restless to be doing the work of the ministry to which I am called right NOW, but I am in a life season that requires relative stillness as I finish my final year of study at Wesley Theological Seminary. My imagination and passion for the work of the storytelling ministry that I launched in Fall 2017 was only invigorated by the Learning Lab experience. The multitude of unconventional and innovative ministry examples the group encountered in London stretched my imagination to see how good work that e mbodies the ministry and mission of Christ can be accomplished in the world, alongside and outside the Church (the Earlsfield experience being a prime example, see photos).
While in London, I felt a deep conviction that the storytelling ministry I’ve developed, called The Clay Jar Project, serves a worthwhile purpose especially for people not interested in participating in institutional models of “church.” I feel a new depth of call to consider how to expand The Clay Jar Project’s practices and vision to encompass work that is Christ-centered but perhaps not explicitly church-centered. While a significant personal passion of mine is the local church, I see potential for this program to be effective in settings I hadn’t previously considered. Utilizing this type of program and curriculum with people who are incarcerated in a prison setting, for instance, is a new vision I have for the future. I’m also seeing new (and albeit somewhat obvious) resonance between my previous experiences working in community development and storytelling ministry. I am considering how The Clay Jar Project could be a force for good in local community and eve n government settings.
In the month since returning from London, I have been thrilled to make connections with multiple people around the country who are engaging in similar storytelling work. I am continuing to jump at opportunities to learn all that I can through conversations, readings, and opportunities for further study. A week after the London experience, I spent a week immersed in another unique culture — rural Appalachian communities of eastern Kentucky on an experience titled “Mountain Stories.” This immersion experience centered on the question, “who has the storytelling rights to the story?” As I continue to reflect on the implications of this question in a range of contexts, I see immense potential for this to become an integral and powerful part of The Clay Jar Project’s practice. I’m excited to bring together all the experiences of this summer into the next season of the Change Maker’s Project.