On the occasion of her installation, on October 23, 2022.
I'm so grateful to Church on the Hill for calling me to ministry here.
As a 21-year resident of Lenox and pastor in Monterey, and as a life-long member of the United Church of Christ, I’ve long been aware of Church on the Hill, have known all of the past pastors dating back to Jane Powell and Susannah Crolius. I’ve watched as you’ve had successes in ministry and setbacks, victories in your witness and heartbreak. Like any faithful congregation of Jesus’ church, you’ve been visited by glory and by humiliation.
Meanwhile, I’ve had a rich pastorate in Monterey. It’s been the perfect church to grow up in as a minister, and moreover as a mother who wanted also to be present in my children’s lives. Gratifying part-time jobs are as rare as unicorns, and that I’ve had one in Monterey fills me with gratitude, awe.
When Church on the Hill found itself in need of a new pastor, it came at a moment in my life when it felt an easy fit. The boys were older and I simply had less to do. I didn’t feel called away from Monterey, where my life of faith has come into maturity and many significant moments in my adulthood have taken place. But I did feel called to something more. Church on the Hill’s reaching out to me, which Amy Chin, Barbara Sims, and Ann Trabulsi found themselves in the place to do, came as God’s grace to me. “When can you start?” was the implied question. “Later this afternoon?” was my unorthodox answer.
It actually took ten days or so to work out the details, which we kept working out until very recently, when COVID finally retreated, and Monterey and Lenox each found themselves settled into new routines. I am utterly grateful that the covenant that binds us together as the United Church of Christ has been so graciously lived out between these two congregations.
As for this service, when it came time to invite a preacher, I kept returning to my desire that Bill McConnell preach. He’s my pastor, having arrived at the North Hampton, NH United Church of Christ when I was six years old. He didn’t baptize me, but he did lead me in confirmation, he was chaplain at Horton Center, the UCC summer camp in NH where I was a camper and then on staff; and, when I went to his office one day of crisis in my 20s, where I told him in some defeat, “I think I should go to seminary,” he opened his desk drawer and pulled out some pamphlets and said, “I was wondering when you’d come to tell me.” He married Jesse and me, and baptized Tobias and Jack. He’s without question the reason I went into the ministry, for his kindness, his seriousness, his intelligence, his humanity.
But he’s 91 years old, and last week his beloved wife Peggy died, she who was a powerful companion to Bill and a model for how to be a human in her own right. She comes as an addendum in this bit of writing, but how she lived was very much as her own person.
So, the question came, who’s been as a pastor to me recently, particularly through the dreadful days, weeks, months, years of COVID? The answer is the Church and Ministry Committee, of which I’m chair. Month in and month out, with some very hard work for us to do together, members of this faithful committee have shown up and been real. This too has been as God’s grace to me.
Well, preacher’s gotta preach, but if it’s not her turn then, apparently, she’s gotta sneak it all in as an insert in the bulletin, which this note was. Thanks to all who were there at the service, for participating, planning, hosting. And thanks be to God for giving us the church where we can practice being humans of the sort Jesus was, which will bring us all the closer to the divine and will manifest the realm of God here amidst God’s beloved world.