If it feels like you don't know where you're going, that's okay. Here's something that can help you reflect on what God might have in store for you and your congregation.
Issue 19: October 2022
Gratitude and Hope
By the Rev. Tim Perkins

In last month’s article, Bob Ullman encouraged us to read Kate Davies’ book “Intrinsic Hope: Living Courageously in Troubled Times.”

In her book, Davies, an environmental activist and self-proclaimed lover of the world, calls us to “intrinsic hope” as “a powerful antidote” to the feelings of fear, despair, and grief that can overwhelm us as we ponder the state of things personally, locally and globally.

For Davies, intrinsic hope is a quality that comes from an internal orientation to life, lets go of specific outcomes and particular results, is open to possibilities, is based on satisfaction and an acceptance of life, and is motivated by love. It can be learned and nurtured.

Davies names and explores six habits that helped her to uncover intrinsic hope in her life:
  • Being present
  • Expressing gratitude
  • Loving the world
  • Accepting what is
  • Taking action
  • Persevering for the long haul.
Bob last month explored Davies’ first habit, being present, and asked us to reflect on the daily spiritual practices that help us center ourselves, reminding us of whose we are. In November, our monthly Supportive Ministries conversation will focus on expressing gratitude, the second of the habits that Davies says can help us cultivate intrinsic hope.

In her book “Grateful: The Subversive Practice of Giving Thanks,” Diana Butler Bass writes: “Gratefulness grounds our lives in the world and with others, always locating the gifts and grace that accompany our way. Gratitude is an emotion. Gratitude is an ethical way of life. It is a disposition, an awareness, a set of habits. But ultimately gratitude is a place – perhaps the place – where we find our truest best selves.”
Holly Whitcomb, in a recent article about her book “The Practice of Finding: How Gratitude Leads the Way to Enough,” found that the themes in her book were useful during the pandemic. She writes: “Folks turned to gratitude for survival in the midst of the COVID 19 days as they listed their thanksgivings, deepened their daily savorings, expanded their friendships on the phone or on FaceTime or Zoom, and cherished their simple pleasures.”

Davies says that “when we are grateful, we naturally become more hopeful. By recognizing and appreciating the gifts we have been given, gratitude breeds hope. Gratitude doesn’t deny the mess we are in, but it does offer a different way of being with our problems because it understands that life is a gift to be treasured. It says thank you for big things, such as someone saving your life, as well as small ones, such as someone holding a door open for you. We can express gratitude for anything that brings a smile to our faces and cheerfulness to our hearts. It’s what get poured into the glass to make it half full. It’s counting our blessings, not only our problems.”

For her, the first step is to identify “at least some of the gifts we have been given.” The second is “to express our thanks and appreciation to whomever or whatever is responsible and to pay it forward to others.”

Discussion questions:

  • What gifts have you received?
  • How have you expressed your thanks and appreciation?
  • How has the spiritual practice of expressing gratitude helped you become more hopeful?
  • How do you pay it forward (or, from Davies, how are you taking action?)
Join the Discussion: Expressing Gratitude
The Supportive Ministries Team hosts a monthly Zoom discussion on topics from this newsletter. The next one, "Cultivating Hope Through Gratitude," will take place from noon to 1 p.m. Nov. 2.

Resource Links related to Gratitude
Video on Gratitude: At the Northeast/Northwest clergy retreat in early October, the Supportive Ministries Team showed this video about a young man’s mission to encourage gratitude. View video here.

Resources related to Diana Butler Bass' book "Grateful: The Subersive Practice of Giving Thanks." View resources here.

Link to Bass’ blog “The Cottage" on her webpage here.

Link to a piece about Holly Whitcomb's book: See article here.

Link to Holly's webpage: click here.

Link to Kate Davies' webpage: click here.
Missed these articles?

Revisit these thought-provoking articles from previous issues. Many include questions for groups discussions in your congregation, or for personal reflection.

Conference Supportive Ministries

In addition to the direct support to pastors and congregations provided by Wisconsin Conference staff, here are some of the supportive ministries congregations can take advantage of. Follow the link below to learn more about this programs and how your church might benefit.
  • Conflict Transformation
  • Coaching Partners
  • Grants and assistance programs
  • Communities of Practice for Clergy or Faith Formation
  • Appreciative Inquiry
  • 5 Practices of Fruitful Congregations
  • Readiness 360
View a comprehensive list with more information about Supportive Ministries offerings.
Photo of Supportive Ministries Task Force
Supportive Ministries Task Force
Through this communication, the Wisconsin Conference Supportive Ministries Task Force provides articles, discussion guides and other resources for clergy and congregations on coping and thriving as we navigate the current turbulent waters. Supportive Ministries Task Force members from top left are Bob Ullman, Lisa Hart, Bonnie Andrews, Cathleen Wille and Tim Perkins.
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