Written by Hollan on the occasion of his election to serve as a Deacon beginning in August 2011
My name is Hollan Holm and my wife, Kate, and I have been members of Highland for about six years. I was baptized in first grade at Immanuel Baptist Church in Paducah, Kentucky. I didn’t wrestle with the decision to become a Christian much at the time. But as I got older, I later wrestled with my belief in the very existence of God. Ultimately, I came to realize that this world in its beauty, complexity, and interconnectedness couldn’t exist as a product of mere random chance. But in my first grade mind, the decision to become a Christian presented itself as a choice between accepting Jesus, a kindly man who always brought enough snacks for everyone, or going to hell. At the time, I did not know how appropriate my “snacks win” mentality would be for being raised in the Baptist tradition, but I would soon learn how much Baptists love to eat. However, I still had some spiritual growing to do.
In my years as a member of Immanuel, I watched my mom, dad, and grandfather serve as church deacons and trustees. I saw the love and devotion they poured into our church with each act of service and each battle fought for the good of the church. My mom was a portrait of grace, dignity, and strength, time and time again, as she was nominated to be a deacon and rejected by a conservative faction in the church who felt it was not a woman’s place to hold that position. I also saw how others sought to undermine the work of the church out of their own arrogance and pride, and yet my parents prayed, sweated, and toiled, to keep that work going. It was in the struggles they endured for the good of our church that I saw how brittle the concept of God’s love can be when expressed through God’s equally frail human creations. However, if there is one thing that is worth fighting for, it is a vision of God’s love.
Immanuel also taught me to look for God at work in the day-to-day actions of God’s human actors. In the mid-90’s, Immanuel developed a partnership with a Baptist church in Klintsy, Russia, that has endured and thrived to this day. Immanuel’s contributions to its Klintsy partner would all too frequently arrive at times that were too spookily opportune for me to be left with any doubts that God exists and is still very active in the work of a church that listens for God’s calling.
Kate and I came to Highland after reading one of Joe’s very progressive and very critical letters to the editor in the Courier-Journal. We had been married a few months and had just started law school. Following some experiences we had attending churches while we were in college, it was a spiritually-replenishing cool breeze to hear a religious leader publicly adopt a progressive position on the events of the day at a time and place where I only saw hard line, conservative pastors bent on propping up a Jesus-industrial complex.
Since we have joined Highland in its work, I have been awestruck at the frightening array of talent at this church. I don’t choose my words lightly. For from to whom much is given, much is required, and the implication of that array of gifts and talent is exciting and a little scary. But I look forward to continuing on that journey with each of you as we follow God’s tugs on our hearts.
I am humbled by this opportunity to serve. I am humbled because I know that out there among you are people more qualified and gifted at service than I am. I will do my very best to serve in their place and keep the work of God’s transforming love very active and very progressive at Highland until such a day as those others are called by this body and answer that call. Thank you for that opportunity.