Sherri Meyer-Veen has been co-pastoring Schoharie Reformed Church in Schoharie, NY with her husband Mike for 17 years. She has been serving as a coach and facilitator for Faithwalking since 2015, and she joined the Faithwalking board in 2020. Sherri and Mike have two children. Sherri enjoys gardening, hiking, and appreciating beauty in creation and art.
Question: Describe something in your life that you were not aware of before Faithwalking (FW). What was the impact of that lack of awareness in your life?
Answer: As a pastor who loves learning, a lot of the content of Faithwalking has not been new to me; however, joining a learning community of practice and working to implement the content in my life is transformative! I’ve known for a long time that I operate as an “overfunctioner” in the systems in which I am involved. Some of these systems expect it and praise me for it. However, Faithwalking has really helped me get clear about the negative impact on my life (in lack of balance and poor sabbath practices and times of burnout and resentment) as well as the negative impact in the systems (creating underfunctioning, feeding a system-wide lack of follow-through, stunting growth and working against many of my leadership goals – including empowering others!). Faithwalking has also helped me learn to recognize and implement new ways of being that let go of some of my over-functioning patterns, embracing more appropriate responsibility levels so that I truly can live into my best self.
Q: Tell us about you. Who are you? How did you connect with FW?
A: I attended my first Faithwalking 101 in March of 2013 as a part of a group of Reformed Church in America pastors participating with Christian Reformed Church pastors in what was then called “Ridder Church Renewal,” now open to all in a process called “Churches Learning Change.” Learning about the existence of the Faithwalking community was like a “coming home” for me in finding a community of Christians seeking to truly live out faith in a holistic way in every dimension of life. I’ve loved it; even as it is hard work, it is good work, and the authentic community fills a deep need in my life.
I live and co-pastor in a rural village in Upstate New York with my co-pastor husband where we have served for over 17 years. We previously co-pastored a church in Southern California and both grew up in West Michigan. We have two children and three fur babies. In addition to part-time pastoring the Schoharie Reformed Church, I am privileged to have a part-time staff role with the Regional Synod of Albany of the Reformed Church in America (RCA) as the Faithwalking and Churches Learning Change Coordinator for the RCA churches scattered across Upstate New York.
I enjoy gardening, hiking, and appreciating beauty in creation and art.
Q: What has changed through FW? How are you different?
A: I am someone who would have said I was self-aware before starting Faithwalking, and yet I now know much more of the depths of what that means, including that I have more to learn. I am someone who thought I was brave, but that was because I had very rarely felt fear. While I value authenticity and vulnerability, there are parts of me that I did not share, especially as a female pastor who has constantly had to prove herself. I’ve learned to let down my walls. I no longer struggle with loneliness as I once did, and all of my relationships are deeper because of Faithwalking.
I am a better parent, wife, pastor, friend, leader, and colleague because of Faithwalking. I am more empathetic of others and can move closer to loving unconditionally because of Faithwalking. I am more compassionate with myself because of Faithwalking.
I love being a Faithwalking coach and facilitator. I am regularly inspired by participants doing good-hard work! I love seeing the work of the Holy Spirit on a regular basis in the lives of others, and that keeps me hopeful and motivated and doing my own work.
Q: Describe the vision you have of your best self.
A: I bask in God’s shalom, loving God, myself, and others freely and ever more fully. I rest secure in my belovedness and freely share my gifts with the world, not out of duty or obligation, but out of an enthusiastic joy and exuberance to share God’s grace as I have received it. I give myself and others grace and space to continue growing into being our best selves!
I am not stopped by my inner critic, shame, perfectionism, nor out-of-control personal and system expectations. I am informed, but not driven by my emotions. I am free to be me. I am seen and known; and I see and know and love others unconditionally.
Q: Describe the vision you have for FW in 5 years.
A: I love the Faithwalking mission and vision statements, “old” and new! I believe Faithwalking is spreading and will be more accessible to the ends of the earth, wherever internet and devices allow. While Faithwalking has already reached several other countries, I believe in 5 years Faithwalking will have growing circles in those places and will have reached even more places in Europe and Central and South America, and will have spread to the African continent as well as more and growing circles throughout the US and Canada.
Q: What was the most helpful tool you learned in FW?
A: I have taken and facilitated all of the Core Four Faithwalking courses multiple times and am now working through the Foundations modules. I most appreciate that Faithwalking helps us change our mental models as we live into Faithwalking as a process, not merely a program. I get something new for myself, even if I am helping “lead,” out of each Faithwalking course. I remember when my own coach told me he was going to his 6th Faithwalking 101 retreat with enthusiasm before I’d engaged one. I was surprised after repeating so many times that he was still enthusiastic and looking forward to it. I witnessed him at a retreat, and as a leader he was “playing full out,” participating authentically and vulnerably. I saw the difference this made for him. I was inspired and have seen the same difference for myself as I continue to repeat courses and go deeper and deeper in my own process. Faithwalking process means putting our learning into action over time with others, continuing to reflect and learn and practice, as we seek to live into God’s mission.
Naming one “most” helpful tool from Faithwalking is impossible, so let me pick one that is on my mind today. Tomorrow I will likely have a different answer. Today, I have been thinking about how important it is to learn to coach, especially learning to coach myself. Slowing down, getting curious, asking good questions, wondering without shame, paying attention to my body, as well as naming what is going on within me as I interact with my world, naming who I want to be, and naming next steps are all some of the helpful steps in learning to coach myself. I still need others in my life to help me see the things I cannot see, I still need and engage a coach on a regular basis, and learning to coach myself is an invaluable daily tool!