My call to be a disciple and pastor of Jesus Christ happened at church camp in New Hampshire when I was 14 years old. The path the Holy Spirit has led me on from that moment to tonight has been one that been filled with lots of turns and twists.
My sister and I grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut with our parents. We attended church every Sunday and were extremely involved in youth activities. I attended a small liberal arts college, Denison University in Granville, Ohio. I received a BA majoring in Religion and Economics. My first church employment was at 19 years old at the Granville Presbyterian Church. I also met my husband in the pews of that church. He has been a very important partner in my journey!
We have three sons. Our oldest is Andy – 32, living with his wife and two sons in a RV traveling the country and homeschooling the boys. Andy is a Director of Software Development for Service Power Inc. Our middle son is Sean – 30, living in Mexico Beach, FL with his wife and their seven month old son. Sean is a Captain in the Air Force as a civil engineer at Tyndall AFB. Our youngest son is James – 25, living in Austin presently working for the Texas Democratic Party. We have lived many places – Andy was born in Atlanta living there 11 days before we relocated to Colorado. Sean and James were born in Colorado. When James was two years old we moved to South Florida. Jeff traveled to South America. In 2002, Jeff’s Ericsson Latin America office closed down, moving everyone to Plano. We lived in Plano until I was appointed to Valley View. Our boys graduated from Plano Senior High School.
We moved many times during our 36 years of marriage. My resume reflects that. I have lived in seven states, served six churches in staff positions, and have been appointed in the NTC to three churches prior to tonight. I graduated with a Master’s of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology in 2008. While attending Perkins I served as the Children’s Minister at Suncreek UMC and served Spring Valley UMC as Director of Evangelism. My first appointment was to Vista Ridge UMC as an Associate in July 2009. I served there until my appointment moved to Valley View UMC in December 2011. In July 2015, I was appointed to Waples Memorial UMC in Denison where I am currently serving.
One of my strengths is connections. In the NTC I have had the honor of holding several awesome positions that have been wonderful ministries in the connection. For seven years I have served on the NW District DCOM. For four of those years I have been the Chair. I have also been serving on the Bridgeport Board for ten years, presently serving as the Chair. For the past three years I have had the extreme honor of serving in the Call Room at the Board of Ordained Ministry.
As a senior pastor, I have become very active in the communities I serve. My connections have led me to the local schools, the local clergy alliances, and local concerns with poverty and homelessness. In Denison I have been a part of the Rotary for five years and serving on the Board of Directors for Greater Texoma Health Clinic. Waples has been a Project Transformation site for the five years I have served in Denison. My passion for children has been focusing on our children, our preschoolers, but also allowed me to plant seeds of hope for the community children that have spent their summers in our church building. While serving in Valley View, the Holy Spirit led us to create the Clothing Closet. We were able to help people with donated clothes and items that could be bought or given away as needed. These ministries have been a blessing to the communities. They have offered a powerful witness to being the hands and feet of Christ.
I love serving as a pastor! I love that every day is different and unique! I love creating worship, offering opportunities for people to encounter their Lord. I love variety in worship through music, prayers, and scripture. My priority in the churches I have served as been pastoral care. I love getting to know families and hearing their stories. In these strange days, a top priority will be connecting with those who may need a pastoral presence in their lives and in their isolation. Over the past four weeks our Waples leadership has been meeting for weekly Zoom calls. In some ways our communication has never been better.
Each church has their own DNA. It takes time to learn the history, to hear the stories, to see the ministries that laity is passionate about. I am coming to walk along side this wonderful congregation. I pray that God will guide me to lead your church in a faithful walk that is God’s vision for us. May our season together be one that is filled with spiritual growth, connecting with the Body of Christ in new ways following this season of isolation, and may we be the Christians Jesus Christ needs us to be in a time such as this.
Vera has been a church musician for over 35 years beginning at the Air Force chapels in California, Mississippi, Arizona, Guam and New Mexico, directing vocal choirs and handbell choirs as well. And she plays the organ! Not only that, Vera has worked with children and youth choirs and arranged music for them—and for adult choirs over these years in many churches.
During Vera’s audition with the adult choir—virtually and with live singers—she demonstrated her skill at the keyboard and her ability to bring good sounds from us, with energy and a marvelous sense of humor. We need all that Vera brings so that we can journey in faith together, even in an uncertain time.