This year’s theme is “The Life.” Today we explore that theme with……
The Life of a grieving minister
Rev. Dr. Sarah Boberg is the Minister of Youth and Children at First Baptist Church in Red Springs where she serves with husband and Pastor, Rev. Bradley Boberg. She is the mother of a 5 year old daughter, Scarlet, who is red-headed and full of personality! Sarah is a graduate of Campbell University with a B.A. in Religion and Christian Ministries, a graduate of Campbell University Divinity School with a M.Div., and a graduate of UNC-Greensboro with a Ph.D. in Educational Studies. In the Fall of 2017 Sarah achieved one of her dreams, teaching Introduction to Christian Education at Campbell Divinity School! In her free time – let’s get real as a minister, preacher’s wife, and mother she has very little of that – but she does enjoy reading, writing, and dancing when she gets a chance!
This summer amidst the bustle of Vacation Bible School and Corn (our youth raise money for Passport camp by pulling and selling corn), my husband and I received overwhelming news. The day the corn fundraiser ended, we went to a doctor’s appointment to receive an update on our baby growing within my womb. The measurements were a little off, so the doctor asked to meet with us again in about a week in a half. We finished our appointment, got in the car, and returned to church just in time for the second night of Vacation Bible School. I cried for the majority of the trip back to, but gathered myself enough to lead children in learning that God’s Heroes Have Courage.
After VBS and a few days “off” with the family, my husband and I returned to the doctor. As the doctor examined the ultrasound she found no heartbeat. We were devastated. We gathered in the doctor’s personal office and made plans to schedule a D&C. My only request was to schedule it as soon as possible because the youth and I were scheduled to leave for Passportchoices camp in 6 days. An appointment was made for the next day.
As a grieving mother and minister I had very little to give. My mind was full of questions. My heart was overwhelmed with sadness. As a minister I have prayed with those entering the operating room. I have sat with family members who waited in the waiting room. However, in the moment of my own sadness, grief, and hurt, I was at a loss. But something amazing happened. One of my former youth was a nurse in the outpatient surgery department. He was the light of Christ to me and my husband. He ministered so well to me by caring for me and even making me laugh among my many tears. He constantly kept my husband informed of my progress through surgery and recovery. He even made sure to remind me to take it easy during my recovery at home and reminded me that camp was not normal activity so I would need to plan to take care of myself the next week.
My days of recovery before camp were full of ALL kinds of thoughts and feelings. Thankfully I am a planner, so a majority of the work to prepare for camp had been completed. However, there were things that needed to be done. Only a few people knew about what we were going through. I was not ready to share with our entire church family, it was too fresh. However, those that knew rallied around us and helped me make final preparations for camp.
On the Sunday we left for camp I was still not 100% physically, mentally, or spiritually. Grief is real and strong. I made some decisions to help me get through the long and exhausting week of camp, including taking my husband and our pastor as an extra chaperone and moral support. Our other chaperones were great at making me rest, stepping up when I needed to take a minute to myself, and encouraging me throughout the week.
On the last night of camp our group gathered in church group devotion. We reflected on our week. We cried and we prayed together. I invited each of our youth to pray for their prayer partner they had been assigned at the beginning of the week. One of our high school boys came up to me and asked to pray for me. He prayed the most beautiful prayer on my behalf. Needless to say I cried and the crying did not stop. After the prayers of our group finished, my husband began to speak. He shared with our youth what had happened to us the week before. Then this beautiful community of faith gathered my husband and I in the middle of the room, laid hands on us, and prayed for us. There were beautiful words and a lot of snotty sniffles. Following the prayer there were more tears and many loving embraces.
My husband and I are still going through the grieving process and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that ministering through the midst of grief is HARD. I could have taken more time off. I could have sent the youth to camp without me, but that is just not my style. Life happens and even though sometimes life brings burdens that are almost too much to bear, life goes on. Ministry happens and even though we think we cannot minister in our weakness, ministry goes on. During this time of grief I have learned that the life of a grieving minster is not lived alone. I have been reminded of one of the most precious gifts of life, the gift of beloved community. The life of a grieving minister is one lived within beloved community. Thanks be to God.