Photo by Stan Harder
Conference Minister for Christian Formation
Hello Central Plains Mennonite Conference! I’m so glad to be settling into my new position of Conference Minister for Christian Formation and Communications Director here at CPMC!
I believe that story plays an important role in faith formation. We learn so much about ourselves and one another and God when we tell our stories and hear the stories of others. And so as we get to know each other, I’d like to begin by telling you a bit of my own story.
I was born on a Kalona, Iowa pig farm to a farmer and a Family and Consumer Science teacher. Both farming and “home-ec” have informed some of my life-long passions and hobbies.
Through most of my school years, it was common knowledge that I was going to be a fashion designer when I grew up. I sewed, I drew, I dreamed of fashion. But those plans began to crumble during my senior year of high school when I began to sense a strange calling to something different. Something very unexpected.
During a year off between high school and college, I spent time both as a youth worker at a Catholic retreat center near London, England, and also as a Certified Nurse’s Assistant at a local nursing home. That year taught me that I loved working with both youth and the elderly and that I loved hearing people’s stories, especially their stories of faith.
The next fall, I began at Goshen College, majoring in Bible/Religion/Philosophy, with a minor in Anabaptist Studies. During my time at Goshen, I had several internships; one at a camp, one in a congregation, and another as a chaplain in a nursing home. Each of these experiences helped to shape my unexpected calling as a pastor. A calling that took some time to get used to.
Even as I knew I was called to pastoral work, I was prepared to wait a few years before attending seminary. But finally, I took the advice of a good friend, who had said, “Why wait? You’d just be waiting around for what you know you should do.” The next fall I began at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. At AMBS, I learned a lot and had even more internships, including one at Washington Mennonite Church in Washington, Iowa, which led to a pastoral position 15 months later.
For the next 7 years, I pastored at Washington Mennonite, for a time as co-, then as lead, and finally as solo-pastor. I learned a great deal about myself, about the church, and certainly about God. I am forever thankful to WMC for encouraging my preaching, for being open to try new things, and for helping me to explore what Christian Formation within a congregation could look like. I loved my time at WMC.
Even so, after a time, I again felt a call to move into something new and unexpected. And again, it took some prompting--and some courage. The rest, as they say, is history—here I am.
Somewhere along the way, I preached a fateful sermon at Pleasant View Mennonite Church, and 3 years later, ended up with a husband. Jon and I live on a dairy farm near Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, with a herd of cows, 12 laying hens, and two hyper puppies. One of my pastoral passions includes finding ways to be a bridge between the urban/academic Mennonites of my school days and more rural Mennonite communities, like the one I grew up in—and so, I’m happy to be living where I never thought I’d be, back on a farm in rural Iowa.
I am excited to be here, getting started in this new role, looking ahead to the ways that Christian Formation can grow as our world and the church are changing. I hope to be and to provide valuable faith formation resources for children, youth and adults in this conference of diverse congregations and to continue the work of communicating the mission of CPMC effectively. As we get to know one another, I hope to hear many of your stories, and to tell you more of my own. If you find yourself in Kalona, feel free to stop by the office and chat, or send me an email or give me a call. I’d love to hear from you!