Written by Kathey on the occasion of her election to serve as a Deacon beginning in August 2011
In the 20 years since I was first ordained as a deacon I have given my testimony many times. Yet, as I prepared to share with you today I found myself spending a good deal of time and prayer in preparation. Where do I start? My faith began in and was grounded through the unconditional love and Christian witness of my parents. My calling to ministry and my commitment to follow Christ began many years ago. Since I don’t have all the time in the world, however, I will start here. You are my testimony. For 29 years the very walls of this sacred space have reverberated with my praise, my joy, even my grief and sorrows.
I was one of the legion of seminary students who found my way here in 1982. I had just moved 1,000 miles across country. I had left my family and friends to follow this sense of call, this tugging on my heart that, to my dad’s great chagrin, led me to Kentucky, of all places! A long way from the “oil patch” of west Texas and Oklahoma where I was raised.
Highland allowed me to flesh out my call. From my first days, the brave souls of this faith community have allowed me to be a partner with you in this ever growing and changing work of faith. No matter how many times and how many ways I have felt unworthy, I was given the opportunity to serve.
Time and again in this place my eyes are drawn to the image of Peter in the Apostles window. There he stands with the rooster under one arm and the keys to the Kingdom clutched in his other. No quiet, unobserved little failure for Peter. His denial of Christ and what should have been his downfall are well-documented in scripture and in the history of the church. Yet here he is in all his stained glass glory. He failed miserably and Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” No matter how many times I have failed to live up to the high calling of Christ in my life, this community kept opening the door for me to new ways of knowing and serving God. Even in the darkest times, when I could not honestly lay claim to faith, it was held in trust for me by dear people like Dottie Frank, who held and nurtured my faith until I could take it up again.
My calling to ministry has taken many different and unexpected turns. Instead of serving on a church staff I have served other Christian agencies and institutions. I didn’t learn how to “do church” in seminary. I learned it here. I’ve learned and continue to learn how to follow Christ because I have seen Christ and experienced Christ in you.
This is where God has planted me. It is where I met my husband Mark, where we married and where we have raised our children. The roots of my faith are intertwined with yours and we are growing together.
One of my favorite hymns was introduced to me by our former pastor, Paul Duke, “O Love that Will Not Let Me Go.”
O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O light that foll’west all my way,
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
My sincere prayer as I begin another term as your deacon is that I will be a conduit for this great love – that will not let me, or you, go.