I am a pre-Harry Potter Fantasy loving person. I’ve been reading my whole life. I majored in English and History (the Japanese History professor told history like a story) and minored in Philosophy at Oberlin College. I wrote so many papers, that I ended up taking a couple of math classes just to break things up! At Oberlin I co-founded the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall, a sort of co-op for ideas, and with the advent of Harry Potter my sister was able to live at the Hall 10 years later. I also did my Senior thesis on the power of story in folklore, myths and fairytales.
I then went to seminary at Princeton Theological Seminary. I ended up Dual majoring in Divinity and Christian Formation. There I helped pick out the books for “Curriculum and Methods of Teaching, Teaching the Bible in the Church, Children’s Fantasy Literature, and Moral Formation.” There, I realized how formative writers like Tolkein and Lewis and especially Madeline L’engle were to my theology.
I went into ministry, fully loving how my the job changes every single day. However something that someone said towards the end of seminary, that has stuck with me like a blessing, is that a pastor is one of those professions where you are writer who is paid very regularly to write.
When I started ministry, I started doing some twitter support for the LGBTQIA (unofficially) as a pastoral form of support. Additionally as disasters struck, I found myself wanting to share some light or hope. I shared thoughts on “Look for the Helpers” from Mr. Rogers–I wasn’t the only one, but people found it helpful, and Calvin & Hobbes “people would act differently if they looked at the stars more.”
I also missed fantasy and squeezed in being a fellow at Brainery Writers Workshop: Science Fiction Fairy Tales: A Hypoxic Style Writing Workshop – with Dr. Jilly Dreadful featuring authors Daniel José Older, Ellen Datlow and Cathrynne M. Valente. Sadly most of my 1,000s of fantasy books remained in boxes in our small rental.
I also began to be frustrated with the Revised Common Lectionary, which is a wonderful 3 year cycle of working through the Bible. Christians started practicing lectionaries together in 1969. However it carries a lot of baggage–bigotry, racism and sexism, and I was tired of rewriting the resources.
I switched to Narrative Lectionary a couple of years in, and began to write my own prayers and doing my own research. I started canvassing people to help to develop Advent & Lectionary resources. Then my mom completed her Doctorate in Liturgy and resumed church ministry so we have been writing Narrative Lectionary Seeds of Prayer Resources together.
I also started writing resources and worship to be more inclusive as my middle child, Westley, was diagnosed with Autism, ADD, anxiety and diverticulitis, and is primarily nonverbal. I co-founded TrailPraisers Inclusive Worshiping which is currently on hiatus. I’m hoping to restart, but God knows if that will fit anymore. We will see where we land post-Pandemic.
When the Pandemic hit, I was full of feelings and prayers, and I found myself writing fairly prolifically prayers relating to the Pandemic. These resources got a lot of attention and began to be used widely. I began to discern a larger call to public theology in writing.
Currently my three children are 8, 10 and 12. I love writing and I love school. A doctorate in Ministry at Pittsburgh Theology came across my social media in Creative Writing. The logistics seemed–surprisingly possible. It is only two weeks in person, you are expected to be working in ministry at the same time, and my kids have just reached the point of being able to be left for longer. This was especially a concern for my child with autism, obviously.
The only question is financial. My family suffered greatly having just graduated when the first recession took place. We know a lot of people who went back to school when the affordability came into question. We are the last generation who unquestioningly took out whatever college loans we needed to, and had that come crashing down when 9/11 happened our second week of college (we were only dating long distance then). With a disabled child and living in a city in New York, costs are high, and important to meet.
So, I am trying to fundraise. Tuition is $8,000 a year. I will probably get some financial help from my church: that looks to be $2,000 right now. So I am fundraising $2,000 through my writing, and hopefully $2,000 some other way, so that it is a four way split. Half fundraised, 1/4 from the church and 1/4 from the family funds.
So I got to work compiling some more extensive advent resources (thanks to a 1,001 Worshipping Communities grant for a 24hr retreat at home I was able to take the time to do the bulk of the work)–and since I like to start advent early, they start Nov 22nd.
Typically my prayers and resources get hundreds of views a week. If everyone who regularly used my resources put forth $20, math says (yay math) I only need 100 people at that level to reach my first goal. Any help $5-$25 is greatly appreciated. As always all resources can be used and adapted with credit to Katy Stenta
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