As you’ve happily heard, the Board of Trustees recently removed the word ‘Interim’ from Katie Lancaster’s title, making her our new Associate Minister for Children and Youth, so let me take a moment to choir the proper praise to a Prodigal Providence for those individuals and institutions in the broader church which prepared her for this vocation at this moment in her life, like:
- The Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, where Katie deeply admired Brian Shivers, the long-time Youth Minister. “I want to be him when I grow up,” said Katie (then Snipes) in her youth. She says that over the last 25 years, about 20 of Brian’s Second Church disciples have entered the Christian ministry, so he must be doing something right.
- Hanover College, a Presbyterian Church (USA) school which not only taught Katie to play a hot violin, but how to read and interpret Greek texts, including the likes of Matthew, Plato, Luke, Aristotle, John, and Origen.
- Katie’s compelling Geology Professor at Hanover, a self-proclaimed atheist who nevertheless inscrutably took a group of Hanover students to Ghost Ranch, a very spiritual and very Presbyterian retreat center in New Mexico, on a Geology field trip. The Christian Church almost lost Katie to the rocks, but thankfully, Katie saw more cohesion than contradiction between those rhyming sciences Geology and Theology.
- McCormick Theological Seminary, where Katie encountered Christians from many nations, most denominations, several colors, and multiple social strata, thereby further cultivating the nascent theological knowledge she’d planted at Second Presbyterian and Hanover College. Fun fact: Before McCormick Seminary lived in Hyde Park, it resided on Chicago’s north side, and before that, it got its start at Hanover College, so there’s some interesting symmetry to Katie’s education.
- The intentionally unnamed retail establishment where Katie worked for several months after seminary. She’d embarked on this slight tangent after seminary because years earlier a minister mentor had told her, “If you can do anything else in all the world besides parish ministry, do it, for God’s sake,” so Katie tried many things, including retail, where her calling to the Christian ministry was intensified and bolstered, which is okay, because sometimes God shows us what we might love by making us do first what we won’t.
- First Congregational Church of La Grange, Illinois, Katie’s first official parish ministry, where for four years she did just about everything and learned just about everything she needed to know to accomplish her work here at Kenilworth Union.
I asked her, “So, Katie, when you retire from Kenilworth Union at the age of 70 after working here for 40 years, how will you know that you have been successful in your work and faithful in your calling?” and she answered, “If the students I worked with when they were young feel safe and accepted and expected at church when they are adults, and are using their faith to understand the world throughout their lives, then I will know that I had been doing the right thing all along.”
I thought that was a good answer.
Grace and Peace,