Together in a New Way

Lara Schopp Articles, Carla Aday

I had never been to Kansas City. A vivacious and beautiful young single woman in a brown Oldsmobile sedan picked me up from the airport. The next thing I knew I was seated at a restaurant on the Plaza and there was a large Texas state flag hanging on the wall behind our table. For two days I met with various committees from the church. They packed a lot of the saints onto those committees. People like John Tilton and Mildred Schooling, both of whom I’m pretty sure were close personal friends of Jesus. Six weeks later, on Labor Day weekend of 1988, I moved to Kansas City to work at this amazing church as the Minister to Single Adults.

I was the first singles minister, the first woman minister, and the only staff person in the building with a computer on her desk ( there was one in the finance office but no one seemed to know much about how it worked). I am pretty sure I didn’t know what to do next but we made it up as we went along. We started after-school programs in the urban core, we built Habitat Houses in Guatemala, we held dances in the median of Ward Parkway with live music, we subtly played matchmaker in Sunday school and then smiled as singles got married and had children. On my first day on the job, Senior Minister Gene Brice said, “I want you to have fun.” And fun we did have!

I couldn’t have imagined back then that 28 years later I would still be working at the same church. Nor could I have imagined that the people here could have taught me so much about what it means to follow Jesus. It has been my privilege to stand before dear friends as they said “I do” and to carry longed-for new borns down the aisle to receive God’s blessing. We have wept together at bedsides and gravesides. We prayed at ground zero and at the continental divide. There have been more than enough committee meetings along the way. We have studied scripture and theology and learned how to meditate and contemplate.

Now the Spirit has called us together in a new way. I am humbled by the opportunity to serve as the eighth Senior Minister of this historic and forward looking congregation. I hope to build upon the outstanding gifts and graces of Glen Miles, Bob Cueni and Gene Brice, all of whom mentored me and believed in me when I wasn’t always so sure of myself. I hope to honor the Spirit of the Living God that is alive in the individual people and the collective whole of this congregation. Together we will take risks. We will fall flat on our faces sometimes. And other times we will beam with joy at our success. But then we will know that we have only been a conduit for the grace, the love and the peace of the God we glimpsed in Jesus Christ.