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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church

    news article

    Here I am… is it where you are?

    August 20, 2018 / By Becky Priest, New Faith Community Planter & member of Fairport UMC

    Let’s just start with this-I’ve been lucky in my life. No one has ever asked much of me. Most of what I had done up until this has been asked of me by the toughest expectant I’ve ever encountered, myself. I knew what I wanted to do, and why I wanted to do it, and let’s just say that few things could ever really slow me down…until something did.

    I had a dream job. I call it a unicorn role; a well-compensated, well-respected, and creative executive leader. I was also the mom of two beautiful girls, and married to my best friend who I met when I was 15. By all worldly accounts, I was enjoying some success. But spiritually I was a child, like Samuel in the temple, like Jonah fleeing from his call, like Martha distracted in the presence of God.

    In January of 2018, for reasons outside of my control and understanding, I wasn’t physically able to continue. It seemed my world was constructed to run at 100 miles an hour and I could only go 45. After denial of this, distraction, running from, and responding in the wrong place, I accepted that all I could physically do was pray, sit, and listen.  

    I left my unicorn role, shaking the “security” of my family’s world, to go to nothing.  Or as I prefer to think of it, to respond to God and follow the way of Jesus.

    For two years I have been practicing daily silence as Jesus taught and studying with a great centering prayer group at my church, Fairport UMC.

    Out of this unique and diverse group who shared silence weekly came a vision for providing space for people wherever they are to encounter silence. Silence?. The same silence that peer-reviewed science shows can decrease anxiety, depression, and increase compassion and self-confidence; the same silence that Harvard and Forbes profile for organizational innovation and employee productivity; the same silence (dare I say) that our Lord and Savior Jesus points us to through his life, words, and practices.

    After prayer and consideration, the pastor who first taught me this practice, Chris Jewell and I decided to start a silence inspired ministry. We call it Into Silence. We have converted a trailer to create a studio that can go out into the community to provide space for anyone to encounter silence for little or no cost to the individuals. Imagine healthcare employees feeling compassion fatigue, festival-goers seeking a respite from the chaos, bankers and sales teams for innovation and inspiration. These employers are hiring us because they know wellness (physical, spiritual, and emotional) is vital to their employees’ success, and conventional programs aren’t making a big enough impact.

    We are eager to see the organic communities of spiritual but not (yet) religious people that silence will spark. Some may even be looking for a congregation where they can share silence with a diverse group and discuss the deep spiritual truths that our faith tradition and others espouse.

    Visit to learn more.

    With more than 144,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 91 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."