When I recently posted on Facebook that I had been appointed to serve as the pastor at Klamath Falls First United Methodist Church, a friend commented, “Wait, I thought you retired?” Another pastor from the California Nevada Annual Conference replied, “No, she was put out to pastor[ure].” Many of the retired pastors I know go on to serve congregations even in retirement, or at the very least, to be very active members of the congregations they join after retiring.
It may seem crazy that after having been “on the job” for only four weeks I am leaving for two weeks of vacation! These days camping reservations must be made 6-9 months out and we will be camping at Cedar Breaks National Monument and Great Basin National Park. We made our reservations long before I had any idea I would be serving as your pastor. Last summer our family started a new tradition of coming together each summer to visit a national park. Victor and I relish the fact that our grown children enjoy vacationing with us!
Coming of age in the south as a transplant from California was an experience that shaped me like no other. I was stunned when my Episcopal Sunday school teacher used the Bible to justify the segregation that still existed in 1969. If you were a person of color, you could not eat in certain restaurants downtown. I, at the tender age of 14, challenged her. She told me to go home and read my Bible. I did, from cover to cover, and I was shocked at some of the things I found in it. Seeking to make sense of the things I felt were not just, I went to the priest who simply told me “You can’t pick and choose.” While I continued to attend church to keep my mom happy, I checked out of organized religion. Yet I always maintained a firm belief that God was interested in the well being of ALL of creation and that the owning of other human beings was not God’s law, but the culture of the time. When I left home, I also left the church.
Dear Members and Friends of Klamath Falls First UMC:
“To everything there is a season,” the writer of Ecclesiastes says, “and a time and purpose for everything under heaven.”
When Laurie and I arrived here last August, we were overwhelmed by the love and support with which you welcomed us. As I began this year of transitional ministry here, your kindness and generosity in forgiving my mistakes, in patiently suffering through my learning curve as your “interim pastor,” and in providing an environment in which my ministry could be affirmed and nurtured is something for which I will be eternally in your debt. Indeed, Laurie and I have said to each other many times in the past year that we could happily be a part of this faith community for the rest of our lives.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
One afternoon in 1953, a crowd had gathered at Chicago’s railway station awaiting the arrival of the 1952 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. There was great excitement and anticipation in the air. The train arrived at last and off stepped a giant of a man – just over six feet four inches tall, erect in posture, with a thatch of bushy hair, a large moustache, and dressed simply in a khaki suit and tie.
Cameras flashed and city officials pressed forward to present the man with the key to the city and to tell him how honored they were by his visit. He expressed polite thanks and then paused – seeming to see over their heads something that concerned him. Excusing himself, he walked quickly through the crowd to the side of an elderly black woman who was struggling to carry two large and heavy suitcases, completely ignored by the throngs all around her. Nodding to the woman, he picked up her suitcases in his big, strong hands and followed her on to the train, helping her into her seat and then stowing the suitcases in the luggage rack above her.