If you read or watch the news, the religious leaders who make headlines are people like Fred Phelps, Sr. who founded Westboro Baptist Church, known for its message of hate, or Abu Bakr al-Baghdādi, the founder of ISIS. Sure, there is an occasional feel-good story about Pope Francis or the Dalai Lama, but these individuals are thought to be the exception rather than the rule.
October is the month when Protestants celebrate the anniversary of Protestant Reformation sparked when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. And it is also Pastor Appreciation Month.
I thought about the thousands of faithful pastors who lead their congregations with integrity without making headlines. And I thought about my pastor who serves the spirited congregation of the United Methodist Church in Eddington, Maine.
I wrote this and presented it as a tribute to her on Sunday, 10/22/17.
“In July 2013 when Pastor Kate arrived at the North Brewer-Eddington United Methodist church I’m sure she didn’t say these exact words when she sized up her new flock, but her reaction went something like this, “Wow! You guys are old!”
Studies reveal that people who have lived together for a long time start to resemble one another. Heck, people even start looking like their dogs after a few years. But it is a little-known fact that ministers begin to look like their congregations.
The first thing to go was her eyesight. She started fumbling for reading glasses, and next thing we knew she was offering us an opportunity to buy large print Bibles.
Her tendency to fall is legendary and rivals that of a wobbly octogenarian. Yes, she loves to ski and bicycle, but Lord, can you please help her stay upright?
And I’ve seen a tiny bit of gray appear in her shoulder length hair as she approaches her 40th birthday.
I’d like to think we have started to resemble her, too. But not in the physical sense, because let’s face it, most of us will never look 39 again without plastic surgery.
I believe we have a new spiritual appearance because of Pastor Kate’s influence. Our revised vision/mission statement sums it up – inspiring worship and restoring hope through service in Christ.
Pastor Kate follows the lectionary for worship services, but she doesn’t omit the parts that make us uncomfortable. She challenges us to live our Christian faith outside the church building, serving our neighbors in need and sharing our faith with those who have no hope. She reminds us that she didn’t grow up in the church and when a Christian told her about the saving grace of Jesus, it changed her life forever.
With a heart for urban ministry, I’m sure Pastor Kate questioned why God led her to serve in a rural church in Eddington, Maine. But even as she acknowledged the boundless energy of her graying congregation working to meet the needs of the community, she found her call to establish and grow a street pastor ministry in downtown Bangor.
Pastor Kate looks more like us, and we look more like her, because of our shared love of Jesus who taught us how to live. Pastor Kate reinforces Christ’s teaching with her sermons and by her example, and for that, we are truly thankful.”
Whose leadership do you appreciate in your faith journey?