It is with great joy I have accepted the call to serve as your pastor. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of meeting folks and learning how things happen around the office, and each day I learn that there is still more to learn and still more folks to meet. What a blessing!
It is clear to me that the Great and Holy Spirit is moving in and through this place and in and through each of us. So many folks have called or come by with ideas for fellowship, worship, service, and education, it is easy to see that members of Abiding Presence are filled with creativity and with a deep love for this place and for one another. We are gifted with opportunities and with energy to really make a difference in the world for the sake of the gospel, and I am so excited!
While in college at Texas Lutheran University, I felt a call to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament, but I was reluctant to accept it. I majored in theology/youth ministry and hoped that serving God through ministry to the lives of young people would be enough to satisfy that calling, but after several years of professional youth ministry in a wide variety of places, I understood that I was being called to be a pastor. So I entered candidacy, unsure how the process might work with my former spouse’s career in the US Navy and with four young children, but I decided to trust God and to trust the process. Sure enough, God found a way. I enrolled in the Distributed Learning Program at Luther Seminary in which I could take two thirds of my coursework online and one third on campus. This meant I could take classes, parent my kiddos, and move around the country as necessary all the while putting my education into practice in several congregations in several states.
Juggling all those roles (mom, military spouse, student, minister) often meant that classes had to be the last priority. It took an incredible nine and a half years to complete the candidacy process for the ELCA. But thanks to God and God’s faithfulness, I did. I graduated with a Master’s of Divinity in May of 2016.
In the spring, it became undeniable that our marriage of seventeen years was damaged irreparably. After working to ensure the health and well-being of our children, we began to work on our relationship so that we might continue to co-parent successfully and return to a place of honest love and friendship. Uncoupling has been one of the hardest things I have done in my life, but redefining our family has led to unexpected blessings and a rediscovery of the best friend I had in high school. We are a work in progress, committed one another’s continued growth, health, and happiness.
During the summer, Bishop Ray Tiemann and I talked about interviewing here in the Southwestern Texas Synod. There were several potential calls in the synod, and I knew that thanks to friends from college and seminary, there would be a great support system for my restructured family. What I didn’t know was that at the same time, Abiding Presence was discerning a need for a pastor with my gifts! So, through the movement of the Holy Spirit, after twenty years, I moved back to Texas to answer a call that I first felt in this very place and alongside Pastor Steve a friend for all that time. God is pretty cool!
I am so grateful to be serving among you. Thank you for your welcome and your willingness to stretch and to grow together as we seek God and serve others in this place of grace and welcome.