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Coffee and a Conversation in 2012

posted Jan 25, 2019, 1:19 PM by Tricia Sheffield

Grace and peace to you in this season of Epiphany!


On Saturday, January 19, I had my last meeting as a member of the Board of Directors for Room for All (RfA). As I signed off, I did so with mixed emotions. I was relieved to be “retiring” after serving six years, and yet, I knew I would miss these beautiful people who are committed to supporting, educating and advocating for the welcome and full affirmation of people of all sexual identities, gender identities, and gender expressions in the Reformed Church in America. What started as a simple conversation with a colleague over a cup of coffee in 2012, wherein I told her I was interested in serving on the Board of RfA, blossomed into one of the most fulfilling and challenging aspects of my ministry. At various times during my tenure on the Board, I considered resigning, as being in that type of ministry can wear a person down, both physically and spiritually. But each time I prayed about it, I heard the Spirit whispering to keep going on. 


And so I did. And I’m glad I did.


I have been privileged and honored to meet some incredible people with whom I never would have crossed paths if I hadn’t been on the Board. Now, many of those people are close colleagues and friends, and they are too numerous to name here. But, two people come to mind and to whom I would like to pay tribute. First, is the Executive Director of RfA, Marilyn Paarlberg. Marilyn and I have planned together, plotted together, and prayed together. We have shared moments in which we have cried in sorrow about the unwelcoming spirit in our denomination, or when a person’s story has touched us. And we have laughed raucously too as we’ve shared a meal, or a glass of wine. Her heart and soul are immense. The second person is Associate Director, Cameron Van Kooten Laughead. Cameron and I began on the Board at the same time, until he transitioned into a staff position. As with Marilyn, Cameron and I have cried and laughed together, and he has always been one of my staunchest supporters in ministry. I can’t begin to describe how much joy he gives me whenever we are together or when we talk on the phone. We started off as immediate friends, and that has remained to this day. And, I am sure, we will continue to be beloved friends.


As you may discern from above, I have many swirling emotions: love, joy, sorrow, relief, gratitude. But, last Saturday as the meeting continued on without me, I felt, well, just plain odd and a bit flat. So, I stopped what I was doing and I prayed for the Board that the One who began a good work in them would complete it until the day when all LGBTQ people would be welcomed, affirmed, and celebrated in the full life of the Reformed Church in America. As a rostered RfA church, let us continue to pray for and support the Staff and the Board until that glad-filled day of inclusive completion.


Come this Sunday at 10:30 AM to worship the One who gives us a life of joy and gratitude. Judy has planned some very special music for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany! She has gathered together an ensemble and they will be singing the anthem, “Days of Elijah,” and for the Offertory, “O Sing to the Lord.” And the hymns! I’m pretty sure you will be humming some of them throughout the week. Not only will our music stir your soul, but our preacher for this Sunday is Elder and Seminarian, Mark Poyner. He will be preaching from Nehemiah 8.1-3, 5-6, 8-10 and 1 Corinthians 12.12-31, and his sermon title is The Lost Treasure.


Now that I’m no longer on the Board of RfA, I’m excited that I will have more “be still and know” time with you. I’m looking forward to having a conversation over a cup of coffee and see where the Holy Spirit is leading you next as a beloved child of God. Who knows? A simple statement could open up a world of new opportunities for ministry and friendship that you have only been dreaming about. Oh, that Holy Spirit! What will She do next and where will She lead us? 


Let’s find out together.


In gratitude for the privilege of being your Pastor, and the holy call of loving you,


Pastor Trish

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