Dear Highland Family,
What a JOY it is to finally be “with” you and to begin my time at Cherokee and Grinstead as your pastor! And what an oddity it is to begin serving as your pastor in the midst of a global pandemic when I still haven’t met so many of you. One of my favorite books about ministry is called This Odd and Wondrous Calling, and I can’t think of a more accurate description of this season in ministry than that. It is odd and wondrous, indeed!
I remember a moment last fall when I was talking to my friend Emily Hull McGee about Highland. It was still fairly early in the search process and I wanted to learn more about the church. I knew of Highland from an outside perspective—your commitment to social justice, your prophetic witness, and your thoughtful worship—but I wanted to know more about Highland from an inside perspective. Specifically, I wanted to know more about the people.
I was at a church I loved dearly and serving with people who were truly the family of God for me in this place. I wanted to know if the people at Highland could become this kind of people to me, too. And I will never forget Emily’s immediate response that day. She said, “Oh Mary Alice, I LOVE these people. Josh and I still talk about how much we miss the people at Highland.” And then, one by one, she began to tell me about so many of you—your names and stories and the significant impact you have made on her life and ministry.
I still haven’t met most of you (at least not face-to-face), and yet in my two short weeks in Louisville, I have already seen such beautiful glimpses of what Emily was talking about that day: The beautiful hospitality of Marilyn Whisler and Vicki Runnion, who coordinated volunteers to help me with everything under the sun during my move to Louisville. The countless people who brought such amazing meals, food for my pantry, and helped in ways I didn’t even know I needed. Terri Connolly, who surprised me with beautiful flowers on my front porch. Bob Cunningham and Bob Belcher, who built beautiful bookshelves for my office and have helped with so many jobs around my house. Larry Hoover, who showed up on a hot afternoon to mow my yard. And of course, Doris Hornbuckle’s behind-the-scenes care in helping me find my new home. Through your thoughtful notes and messages, homemade bread, overflowing chips and queso, lava cake and cookies, vegetables from your garden, and mini-refrigerators, you have already shown me such an incredible welcome in these days. Thank you so much, Highland Family!
I am so looking forward to meeting many of you in the days to come. In next week’s newsletter, I will include a link if you would like to sign up for a time to meet with me in whatever way you feel most comfortable: masked and socially distanced in Highland’s sanctuary, outside Highland in the playground or a nearby park, on your front/back porch, or even on Zoom or by telephone. There will be a variety of days and times of the week available to accommodate different schedules, and I will continue to open up new spaces every month until I can meet with the entire Highland family.
Know how much I look forward to my time with you, friends! I hope to learn your stories, to discover what you value most deeply about Highland, to listen to your concerns or questions about the future, and to hear your hopes and dreams for our faith community as we journey together in odd and wondrous ways in the days ahead.
With gratitude and great hope, ~ Mary Alice