Celeste Kennel-Shank Archive

Differences We Tolerate

October 2, 2015 Celeste Kennel-Shank

Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and State Street attract people from around the world for pleasure shopping. Stores selling designer shoes, trendy clothes, high-end accessories and more line both sides of each street. . . . opposing consumerism is far from prominent in the minds of many U.S. Christians when they talk about standing against the whims of culture. I work a few blocks from these shopping corridors. I won’t say I’m never tempted to stop in a store and buy an item or two, and I don’t begrudge visitors their enjoyment. But if I’m passing through with extra time on my hands […]

Finding God’s presence within the decay

August 28, 2015 Celeste Kennel-Shank

More than a few people are surprised that I genuinely love working with compost. Sure, it smells bad sometimes and is occasionally slimy when it gets out of balance. But I enjoy being part of creating fresh, rich earth from unneeded scraps of vegetables that would otherwise go to landfills. It’s fun to think about the carbon-to-nitrogen (brown-to-green) ratio, to take the temperature of the pile and to turn it. The beautiful dark soil a good compost pile generates is a satisfying reward. The materials we work with mirror our own mortality. Not just the ultimate end of our earthly […]

A less popular faith

July 17, 2015 Celeste Kennel-Shank

The largest religious groups in the United States received some difficult news in a recent survey. Mainline Protestant, Catholic and evangelical Christians all dropped in numbers over the past several years, according to the Pew Research Center’s report, America’s Changing Religious Land­scape. Mainline Protestants—such as Presbyterians and Methodists—saw the largest decrease. Overall, the effect was a drop in the number of people calling themselves Christian from 78 percent in 2007 to less than 71 percent today. In the Pew report, Anabaptists were counted among Protestants, evangelical or mainline depending on the denomination. (Curiously, it lists Mennonite Brethren but not Mennonite […]

Challenges of a new home

May 29, 2015 Celeste Kennel-Shank

My husband and I recently moved into the home we purchased a few months ago. We can envision living here for decades. Once all of the boxes are unpacked and the furniture put in place, we’ll need some time to relax. One of my hopes for our home is to show hospitality through sharing guest bedrooms and meals. But I am also keeping an eye toward developing practices in our new home to help us continue to live simply. As I packed up our boxes, I reflected that I felt we had the right amount of stuff (not a precise […]

Our stuff tells our story

April 24, 2015 Celeste Kennel-Shank

Ah, stuff. There’s nothing quite like moving a household to spark thoughts on what it means in our culture and our tradition to have possessions and try to live faithfully with them. Perhaps the most poignant moment was finding two comic books given to my husband by a man who was homeless to whom we provided some companionship in the final months of his life. Except this time my husband and I now can count a house among what we own. It’s hard to wrap my mind around. When we were negotiating the price with the owners and signing the […]

Ordained to be reverent

March 24, 2015 Celeste Kennel-Shank

Culminating two years of being a licensed minister, and following eight years of seeing an inkling of a calling to pastoral ministry grow into a deep truth in my life, I was ordained in December. For me to be ordained, to be a reverend, is to live with the knowledge of human limitation (including my own) while also seeking a deeper relationship with God and helping others to do so. Since then, one of my delights has been stepping into and claiming the title of “the Reverend.” Staff members at the hospital where I work as a chaplain address me […]

A faithful leader engages creation care

January 29, 2015 Celeste Kennel-Shank

In the movement for earth care… Faith in Place’s engaged and engaging leadership is a bright spot of hope.

Jury duty

December 25, 2014 Celeste Kennel-Shank

Many of us in North America today may not face the choices that our ancestors did, but it still tests our discipleship to engage with our tradition and beliefs under present governments.

Reducing infant deaths

November 27, 2014 Celeste Kennel-Shank

Singing “Nothing is lost on the breath of God” in church on a recent Sunday, my mind called up the face and tiny body of the stillborn child I blessed most recently. I had read about a church that held a memorial service including that hymn after the pastor had a miscarriage. The song is now connected for me with the pregnancy loss I’ve seen in my work as a hospital chaplain. In caring for parents after miscarriage, stillbirth and the death of an infant, I have witnessed a deep pain and sadness distinct from other expressions of grief I […]

Choosing smartly

September 26, 2014 Celeste Kennel-Shank

Living simply and adopting new technology aren’t necessarily at odds. One simply has to be careful how one uses technology and to watch out for potential abuse.