Sr. Michelle Walka is the director of Beloved Art and Practice. Please click here to view and purchase her work.

In seminary, I found myself deep in discernment. I knew I was being called into faith leadership and I continued to connect to the longings of those who could not find a place inside the church walls but wanted to grapple with faith and ritual and God’s presence in their lives.

At the same time, I was on my own journey of restoration and discovery and finally, able to claim my own identity as beloved and an artist.  It was in these holy and hard moments, that I recognized a vital connection between the creative process and contemplative practices in giving individuals and communities an intentional space for mind, body, and spirit connections and growth.

With this, I began to explore the Word and Service Roster (and at the time, it’s three expressions).  It was a beautiful (and dare I say Spirit interceding) phone call with Sister Krista that became the catalyst to my exploration of the Deaconess Community.

It was then, through the Deaconess Community’s formation process, that I got to know many of the sisters and hear their stories and passion for service in the world, while also being connected to this mutual and covenantal community.

What stood out to me early on was the respect for one another despite differences and with this, the acknowledgment that there might be a space for me.  Through the formation process, fruitful conversations, and continued discernment, I not only was more affirmed in my call into this intentional community, but also found more and more vocational clarity.

I’m grateful for the Deaconess Community’s ability to walk with me in my own discovery and growth.

Not only is the Deaconess Community rich in prophetic history but continues to be witness to God’s movement in and for the sake of the world.  The Deaconess Community has the distinctive gift of covenantal relationship as well as the gifts of service and resources.  My hope is that with these gifts, we continue to live into our prophetic identity; midwifing the Spirit’s ongoing creative work of mercy, compassion, and justice.

Each day, I am compelled by the love of God and sustained by community.  I’m grateful for how this movement and sustenance manifests in my daily work as Director of Beloved Art and Practice. This new ministry initiative within the Eastern North Dakota Synod has been a beautiful and life-giving partnership with the Deaconess Community.

My work consists of facilitating workshops and retreats based in creative process and contemplative practice.  I believe that these practices in community are a beautiful acknowledgment of our collective humanity and a subversive and powerful act of narrative sharing, healing, and restoration.

The creative process, spiritual reflection and discernment are at the core of this ministry, which ultimately gives space for people to wonder and discover how God is active and calling them to act in and for the sake of the world.

This ministry impacts not only people’s individual sense of engagement and leadership within the church and the world, but also impacts community’s awareness and discernment as to the movement of the Spirit in their very midst.

I am honored to be part of this community, as we are continually sustained by God and one another for the sake the world.