Importance of Prayer as a Guide to “What’s Next” – Rev. Dr. Arleen Bump Austin

Rev. Dr. Arleen Bump Austin

I’ve been involved with supporting the Phoenix Bridge since its inception – serving as mentor, counselor and practitioner to many ministers who were “in transition” in a variety of ways in their ministry.

And now it’s “my turn” as I retired after 44 years of CSL Pastorship the end of 2016, after serving my longest and latest pulpit in Fort Lauderdale for 25 years.

I was newly married in 2016 and knew I would be retiring. My husband, Dr. Harvey Austin (a retired surgeon) said to me: “If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?” My response was “I’ll get back to you in 2 weeks as I have to pray about it”. After 2 weeks I had come to the startling conclusion that my entire adult life from age 30 on had been spent as a minister/pastor and I lived in that box called “my ministry” and did not have a clue of what my life would be like – or WHO I would be – once I stepped out of that “minister” box and took a good look at the rest of the world. What a shock!

Ao we moved West, choosing Southern Oregon, where I have some family and Harvey has a few friends. It was a start – and we were also fortunate to discover and join the CSL Rogue Valley (Medford) where we could participate, and I could support their wonderful minister, Rev. Kimberly Hawkins whenever she asked. It’s been great.

About a month into this new life, I began to feel restless and felt I needed spiritual support about this major change. So I contacted my dear friend, Rev. Nadene Rogers, chairperson of the Phoenix Bridge, and we began talking, and then we talked some more. We talked about identity, teaching desires, grief and loss (lots of it) and the importance of creating a new vision/intention for my life.

The “Phoenix Bridge Team” members are always available to listen, counsel, and offer a strong shoulder when there may be necessary tears and the need to acknowledge sadness, loss or other disruptive feelings. Being able to talk randomly about our feelings, fears and to process questions, etc. is so valuable. And having these discussions with a member of the Phoenix Bridge Team is invaluable because these precious folks have “been there, done that” and are grounded in the importance of prayer as a guide to “what’s next”.

My first teacher (1963), Rev. Ruth Wright (founder, Napa Valley Church) used to often say: “Change is the only permanent thing in the Universe,” paraphrasing Dr. Holmes. As ministers and practitioners, we go through many life changes within our ministry – from being a newbie, to changing titles, to changing churches, to juggling with our everyday personal lives while all the time spiritually moving forward in our clarity, dedication and commitment to being in service to our community and to humanity in general.

I continue to minister in a way that fits my life and know that the idea of sacred service is ever available to all of us. I do “my version” of ministry and it is fulfilling and joyous.

Whatever your challenge(s) may be, I urge you to avail yourself of the many services of CSL’s Phoenix Bridge. It supported me over some challenges as I realized I didn’t have to go through these changes alone. And you can be sure that as any future changes come up, I will pick up the phone and make one of the most important calls ever; the call for emotional support and prayer from this amazing team of folks who are in service to our highest and best selves.

I close with my favorite prayer: “Keep fresh before me the moments of my high resolve.” And I shall never forget! And so it is.

Dr. Arleen Bump Austin, Pastor Retired

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