Does anyone else have seasonal playlists? I have a summertime sooth playlist filled with chill country music. I built it last year while I was tearing out walls in the basement before the basement waterproofing team sealed the cinderblock walls. It includes, of course, the song “Summertime” by Orville Peck. I discovered Orville Peck through Grady Smith a Youtuber and country music commentator. As I started listening to him, I fell in love with his sound and his lyrics (along with his masked aesthetic).
In an interview with NME magazine, Peck states “Summertime can be a season, a person, or a memory of a happier time that can be difficult to visit. Ultimately this is a song about biding your time and staying hopeful – even if it means missing something or someone.” It’s been a weird year and a half, and as my dad suspects, it’s not over yet. Yet, we have to figure out what’s next, and while it feels like we’re missing something, someone (or multiple someones) we can still stay hopeful.
I don’t want to talk about coming out of a pandemic or getting back to normal, I want to talk about what’s next. Today, June 1st, I am launching my professional Facebook page as the first in a series of new endeavors. Following that, I plan to create Facebook group for Rural Discipleship. This will create a space to share resources, connect with others in rural ministry, and engage in the new possibilities for rural ministry in the 21st century.
Beyond social media, I plan to begin work on a VLOG that serves both educational and affirmational purposes related to rural life from my creative and hope-filled perspective. I also plan to work on a podcast that will focus on a different rural idea or experience each season of the show. The first season will focus on rural funeral practices and how they might serve as scaffolding for resurrection in rural spaces.
Finally, I am teaching a ton of classes this summer and fall! Two new classes in country music are set to launch in the new few weeks. One focused on personal spiritual formation and one on church leadership. I am also teaching a rural ministry class for Wesley Theological Seminary and a continuing education course “Teaching the Wesleys in Your Methodist Church” for Hood Theological Seminary.
I also plan at least one webinar series with Hinton Rural Life Center, and am teaching in person (For the first in 1.5 years) for my district in UMC studies. And this is just the summer!
In the fall I plan to offer my rural ministry certification again with BeADisciple.com, as well as offer courses with tentative titles: “Parables in Rural Places” and “Holidays in the Country.” I also have dreams of a food centric course as well. If the Country Music courses go well, I may re-offer them as well.
All that to say, summertime is going to be fun, and I look forward to exploring the beauty this season offers.