|Melissa, Matt and the girls came to visit|
Today my longtime friend and colleague Melissa , her husband Matt and two children are in the city for a visit. When I first knew her, she was a student at Louisville Seminary and an intern with our Presbyterian Health Education and Welfare Association. I’ve known her through her student days, her call to ministry and ordination to a small salt of the earth people church in Cairo, Michigan. And then from her subsequent call to a sizable Presbyterian classic church in city edge Rochester, New York. Where I preached her installation service.
We’ve been together through many Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assemblies seeking to defend the denomination’s traditional pro-choice position on abortion from the annual assaults and efforts to turn it back. As PHEWA’s liaison to the ever changing names and configurations of the (now)Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, I sought to be supportive of her in her role as an official voting board member.
We suffered through the biennial staff blood lettings including the year we lost our PHEWA Executive Director. And I supported her as she fought to achieve something approaching fully inclusive decision making process with sufficient information, engaged debate, etc to honor our polity and tradition. And finally, as she fought to get a fair shake for Stony Point and the shared vision of Rick and Kitty Ufford-Chase.
And we spent many long hours over bourbon barrel beers talking about the church we loved and its future. Pretty much deciding the church we knew was gone. That many congregations would carry on into the future as if nothing had changed, but the historic institution was pretty much in the postlude and something new waiting to be born. Already being born at the grass roots level. She pushed me and pushed me to stay at West-Park and bring it back to life and to be part of that birthing.
And let’s not forget baseball games, Tigers and Bats…
(Oh …and she’s also co-author of a book, The Girlfriends' Clergy Companion: Surviving and Thriving in Ministry Paperback, along with Marianne J. Grano , Amy Morgan , and Amanda Adams Riley.
It’s been five years since she has been here. In looking around, she can see so much that has changed, finally. The restored ceilings and walls, the fresh paint, the brightness of the first floor. I tell her all about this summer’s Antigona. And I give her girls angelitos painted by Angelo Romano. I have to remember sometimes, yes, a lot has changed.
Don’t give up, she says, it’s happening..