Rev. Cathy Johnson
I am Rev. Cathy Johnson, and I am looking forward to serving as your Interim Pastor in this time of transition and opportunity. I am grateful for the prayerful and diligent work of the Transition Team in the search process, and for the good work of Rev. Lanie, Jen, Mark, Kendra, Terrie, Ron, Griffen, and Linda and many volunteers who have been working hard to keep the ministry of the congregation running smoothly after Rev. Tom retired, especially during a pandemic! They are to be commended for all their efforts!
The time of interim ministry can be both exciting and uncertain, so we will keep recalling the larger story of our ancestors in faith who navigated all kinds of challenges. Together we will move through the development tasks of an interim time (coming to terms with your history, affirming your congregational identity, assessing leadership needs, renewing denominational ties, and preparing for new pastoral leadership) as we prepare and discern who God is already preparing to be called as your next Pastor. There is not a pre-determined amount of time this takes, often it takes between 18 months to 2 years yet each church’s process is unique so we will allow God to guide the timing. The church at large is in a time of great transition and Christ Presbyterian Church has the advantage of having to be intentional about seeking God’s guidance through this significant interim time of change.
I noticed the symbol of the boat on the outdoor sign at the corner. The boat is an appropriate symbol for this season as we recall the story of the disciples in the boat in rough waters only to be assured that Christ was with them in the storm. This is one way we can talk about the uncertainty of these days: we are not alone. And it is important to remember that God is steering the boat and we are the crew “learning the ropes” together as God guides us.
During my interviews and tour of the church facility (it appears to be well-maintained) I began to see which ministries you have been able to continue since last March, which ones you have adapted, and some that you have had to put on pause. It is clear to me that Mission is important to this congregation, so we will continue that focus as I learn more about your priorities as well as your hopes and dreams.
“God sightings,” as Rev. Brownlee referred to them last Sunday, are what delight me most about ministry and our life of faith. Whether it is a child asking curious questions about life, faith deepened and enriched while on a mission trip or while witnessing spring after a long, difficult winter, a teenager’s awareness of a love larger than life guiding them, the grace received in forgiving someone, a moment in worship where Christ’s presence is palpable, even on Zoom – these are some of the threads of faith that we weave together, and which sustain us. Together, especially in times of transition and change, it is important to notice and claim God’s presence in our midst.
I am finishing my ministry of 5 1/2 years as a chaplain with the Adrian Dominican Sisters where I have learned much about faith, community, resiliency, and preaching with our lives from these remarkable, prayer-filled women. I will continue to live in Adrian and will commute, using the driving time for reflection, listening to podcasts and audio books, making calls (once I am out of city traffic!) or just enjoying the scenery and quiet.
My mom, Pat, lives in a senior living complex here in Adrian. She has “sheltered in place” since March so we stay in touch with texts, phone and video calls, and occasional patio visits when weather permits. My 2 daughters, Ruthie and Rachel, son-in-law Jon (Rachel’s husband), and granddaughter Jorah (Ruthie’s daughter, almost 7) live in Michigan, and my fiancé, Steve, lives in California - we look forward to easier travel in the future and his eventual return to Michigan (we went to high school together and reconnected on Facebook) upon finding employment (he works in construction management) and our marriage! I enjoy walking – for exercise, to pray, and to take in the sights around me. I don’t walk as much as Forrest Gump did, but you may notice me walking the “loop” in the church building as I pray and listen for God’s guidance. My 2 brothers and their wives live out of state: Tim and Gina are in Florida, and Tom and Nell are in North Carolina, so we cherish our occasional visits. Each summer my family looks forward to spending time at our family cottage, built by my grandfather and great-grandfather, on a 5-acre island on Grand Lake near Alpena. Gardening, yoga, quiet reflection time, caring for creation, engaging in the creative process such as cooking, writing poetry, or photography, and spending time with family and friends (these days that’s by Zoom and FaceTime and occasional outdoor visits) help balance out my days and remind me of God’s gifts of love and grace.