For Pastor Appreciation Month, I thought I’d follow my friend and colleague’s lead and list some of the pastors who have helped shape my faith and my life.
From my home church, First United Methodist of Carrier Mills, IL
- Steve Palmer was the first pastor with whom I had a connection. He had a passion for our UMYF, and was my pastor when I took my first steps into faith. His wife Linda held my hand as I prayed at the altar at Beulah Youth Institute (church camp) when I first gave my life to Jesus.
- Tom Richards was our pastor when my brother and I were confirmed and baptized.
- Harold (Red) Andricks led our church through a period of transformation. He taught us how important it is for the laity of the church to own its ministries. In many ways, he taught us how to be a church. He also helped lead my dad into a life of faith, and baptized my daughter Caitlyn.
- Victor Long led our church into and through a time of tremendous vitality. He also mentored me in the early stages of my ministry inquiry process. He taught me Lectio Divina, the Liturgy of the Hours, and showed me how theology really matters in the life of the church. He remains a friend, trusted colleage, and a personal mentor to me. My admiration for Victor is tremendous. Victor also baptized my sons, Anthony and Carter.
- Deb Pollex entered the ministry process at approximately the same time as me. Her meditative, contemplative, and artistic approach to church leadership, especially youth leadership, is inspiring to me. Often when designing a worship experience I ask myself, “how might Deb do this?”
- I also have to mention Joey Dunning and Stan Irvin, who have served CM FUMC since I left. They have been my family’s pastors and have done tremendous work.
From other scenes in the Rest of my life
- Larry Gilbert has been my pastor, my District Superintendent, and my friend. He taught me a lot about preaching, and helped me understand how deeply human pastors really are.
- David Eadie was never my pastor nor a formal mentor, but he was a colleague in a Covenant group during my Provisional Elder years. His words of support and care during that time are precious to me. No one has been more supportive of my ministry in our denomination. He retired the year I was ordained. During the passing of the lamp from the retirees to the new ordinands, he represented the retiring class and I received the lamp from him as a representative of the ordination class.
- Steve Patterson, Damayanthi Niles, John Bracke, Karen Tye, Peggy Way, Joretta Marshall, Diane Windler, Deb Krause, Martha Robertson, Michael Kinnamon, Jesse Williams, Clint McCann, and so many others who taught and guided me at Eden Theological Seminary. In preparation for ministry, my faith was deconstructed, reconstructed, and built up in ways I could never have anticipated.
- Robb McCoy, Robyn Miller, Nelson Pierce, Margaret Redmond, Frank LeBlanc, Carole Barner, Stacy Tate, Kim Shirar, Hope Molozaiy, Jessica Taft, Josh Williams, Grant Armstrong, Brady Abel, Rocky Sheneman, Tony Clark, Joe and Jessica Rowley, Dietra Wise, Jessica Petersen and again… so many more than I can name who were my classmates and friends at Eden. We made beautiful theology and beautiful music together, and walking through that re-formation process together was pure joy.
- Nicole Wiedman-Cox, Robb McCoy (again), Jeremiah Thompson, Josh Williams (again): AKA Troublemaker’s Corner. We went through the Residence in Ministry program together and caused all kinds of trouble there. Now we sit together at Annual Conference and cause trouble. I love these people more than I can say, and I love having them as friends and colleagues.
- Cindy Jones was my DS through thick and thin. Ordination, divorce, remarriage, closing a church… Cindy has been there with me, sometimes holding my hand and other times holding me up. She has built and affirmed my leadership skills in ways I can’t even express. My current DS, Randy Reese, is also wonderful.
- Joe Scheets, Annelle Ruemmler, Dan Perry, and Tim Pate are my bandmates in the Rivers of Life Clergy Band, but our relationship is far more than musical. They are my friends and my favorite Covenant group ever.
And I’ve only scratched the surface.
I thank God for so many I have named here, and so many left unnamed.
How have your pastors affected your life? How do you plan to show appreciation to them?