Vocational Pivot

I’ve begun a significant vocational transition. After serving as pastor of Circle of Hope in

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Joel Embiid (right) demonstrating a pivot

Philadelphia for the last 15 years, I discerned—with a lot of help from friends—that it was time to make way for younger leaders. Having resigned from that position, I am entering into a season of transition, which extends from now through February 2019.During these five months I’ll be sitting with heavy questions, resting, and undertaking four pilgrimages to launch me into the next season of my calling. I’m inviting you to accompany me in my journey.

It’s hard to quantify the love, blood, sweat, and tears I’ve expended pastoring and nurturing a small non-profit ministry. I love Circle of Hope church, and am pleased how the transition plan is unfolding. My pastoral successor, Jonny Rashid, has been a trusted friend for years; I have discipled him since he was 19, and watched him grow into an outstanding pastor over the past eight years. I consider it an honor to pass a vibrant congregation on to Jonny and the other leaders, and look forward to returning to this community as a covenant member in March of next year.

But what’s next for me? Vocationally speaking, over the last 15 years I’ve been accountable to a local community embedded in a specific place. In this historic

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Another example of what a pivot can look like

al moment I sense a broader calling. We as a nation are hurtling towards further environmental catastrophe, and overt white supremacy has again reared its ugly head. So I’m compelled to help build movements for justice in ways that strengthen the soft tissue of our ecclesial Bodies.

As I approach my 40th birthday (and my daughter Helena’s 18th) I’ve been reflecting on what the second half of life could mean vocationally and professionally. What can I best contribute to the ongoing wider struggle “for the soul of America” as Dr. King put it 60 years ago? These are some of the questions I want to explore:

  • What can I not not do?
  • What is the core of the projects I’ve undertaken to date (which range from playing music to facilitating workshops, from economic reimagining to communication, from prophetic public speaking to private pastoral listening)?
  • What kind of work—and working environment—will give me life, so that I’m living and giving out of my fullest spirit?

I am looking at a few opportunities for projects, some of which might potentially earn some income, many of which will continue to be volunteer. I need help discerning priorities.

In the course of my ministry I’ve picked up many skills and competences, but my most valuable asset is my ability to relate well to people and social networks. So during this season of re-orientation, I am going to makes some “pilgrimages” to various places,

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I feel most at home in brackish spaces, where ideas and social groups converge

persons and communities. In a pilgrimage, time and travel take on a holier meaning. My four proposed pilgrimages will hopefully help me gain insight into who I am outside my (rather comfortable) role of pastoring. I’ll visit aunties and uncles, collaborators, relations, and friends, across North America. I want to further investigate my family roots in Europe. I want to spend extended time in the wilderness. I long to sit with mentors.

I estimate that these pilgrimages over the next four months may cost nearly $10,000. So I’m putting the word out to you—friends, relatives, and perhaps future collaborators. I’m offering you an opportunity to help me make this vocational pivot and gain a clearer sense for what I am called to be doing next, and with whom. When I have completed this discernment journey, at the end of February, as a tithe I will redistribute 10% of everything I raise to deserving projects connected to urban farming, Indigenous leadership development, and getting Black people out of jail in Philly.

I am grateful to my friends at Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries, a nonprofit ministry registered in California (and who I will visit twice during this journey) for fiscally sponsoring this project. You can send a check (memo line: Joshua Grace Pivot) to BCM at PO Box 328, Oak View, CA 93022, or use the Paypal button on their website (again, please specify that your donation go to the Joshua Grace Pivot restricted fund).Thank you for considering making a tax-deductible donation, by which you will accompany me on this journey forward, deeper into faith and justice.

PS – I’m about to leave for a two-month solo road trip, spanning about 12,000 miles around North America. If you would like a visit take a look at my draft schedule and let’s try to line it up.

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Joshua Grace

My people came from Poland about a century ago. I came from Buffalo, and after living in some small upstate NY towns I moved to Philadelphia in 1997 to study music. After dropping out after my first year, I worked as a caterer, bike messenger, and teen specialist at a community center before I became one of the pastors for Circle of Hope for 15yrs. I married a brilliant woman who turned out to be quite the social entrepreneur. We have two daughters, now both in Philadelphia high schools. I try to do my part for the Movement – helping address our environmental catastrophe and fight the rise of overt white supremacy. I studied at Drexel (music) and Temple (African American Studies) before getting my Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies from NAIITS, an Indigenous Learning Community.

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