No doubt you have received and read the letters from both Charles and Dr. Tim Bruster regarding Charles’ leaving the church staff on April 30. Dr. Bruster’s letter included the announcement that I will be taking over the leadership of the eleven:eleven celebration and community on May 4.
I am both excited, and somewhat overwhelmed, by this sudden change in the direction my work and life will be taking. But the over arching concern for me has been, and will continue to be, that eleven:eleven remains a strong, vital community and worship space for people to explore and seek out a deeper understanding of their relationship to one another and to God. I have been involved in the visioning and planning for this worship from the beginning, and it continues to be my passion and joy to be a part of a non-traditional worship community. Prior to touring the country for 17 years as a storyteller and children’s author, I served in local United Methodist churches as a pastor, associate minister and social worker before that. In all my work, a central driving value has been the importance of our stories and the many ways we seek and learn to live out our stories authentically in relationship to one another and to God.
It has been a joy to have had a weekly routine of storytelling, dialogue and reflection with Charles on each Sunday’s worship and I have come to respect and admire his leadership for the past 11 years. We have developed a unique friendship with that rare gift of shared insight and creativity that made co-planning worship services, events and creating original music together almost effortless. I feel privileged to have been a part of that with Charles and am honored to have the opportunity to continue in that direction with you. Charles and I will certainly cross paths and continue to dream and create together on occasion down the line. I wish him all the best as his visioning and dreaming and wisdom continue to unfold in new directions before him and inspire others.
I am also grateful for Dr. Bruster’s compassionate leadership and the ways he affirms and nurtures the various talents and passions for ministry throughout First UMC. He is aware of the many ways people explore their relationship to God and values the relevance and vitality of the eleven:eleven community. I am strengthened by his and Charles’ belief and trust in my ability to take over eleven:eleven and lead our unique worship community.
Finally, stories are important to me. This is where my life has been for the past 25 years, telling and listening to stories. Over the next few weeks and months, and beyond, I want to get to know your stories better. I hope you will accept my invitation to bend my ear as we get to know one another and continue on this amazing gift and journey we have before us.
Grace and Joy,
P.S. I also want to let you know about something very special happening tomorrow in Leonard Memorial Chapel. We’ll have the unique privilege of being joined by one of the brothers from the monastic community in Taize, France from 10:30 – 11:00 am. The deeply prayerful Taize music is a harmonious, repetitive singing of a simple scripture verse or phrase — a perfect way to move beneath our rushing thoughts and settle deeply into “heart knowing.” Click here to learn more!