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Learning As We Go

Just a year ago this week I came to Appleton for the first time to interview for the position of Interim Senior Pastor. I interviewed with the Search Team, toured the building, met with Pastors and the Director of Music. The next day I checked out housing and with Peggy’s help we found our house near City Park.

On the plane going back to Boston, I realized I was smitten with this idea. Peggy’s week was not as promising. She had been diagnosed with COVID for the second time, but still she caught my contagious enthusiasm. When I got out of the taxi from the airport, Peggy was standing in the door masked, with a cake, a balloon that said “Congratulations”. When I opened the gate she said, “Let’s go have an adventure in Wisconsin.”

That’s how it started. We rented our house and stored our furniture in the basement. We packed our clothes and a few household things we thought we couldn’t live without. We brought some books, the Jesus doll, and the dove on a stick. I arrived August 23 and Peggy came the next week. It has been a total immersion experience and the time flew.

But I will never forget my time here with you and I learned some important lessons this year with you in Appleton.

1. I learned again how much I love leading worship and programs in a large congregation, and how much music feeds my soul.

2. I learned to focus more on each day especially because I knew my time would be limited. Peggy and I learned not to postpone things for tomorrow that you could do today. Wherever we went we felt like travelers who might not be back soon.

3. We also learned how unimportant many of our things were. We did not miss our furniture or so much that we thought defined “home” for us.

4. After 40 years I realized that I still love the Mid-West, especially the friendliness of the people. Peggy, though born in Manhattan, learned that she loved it too.

5. We learned that we always want to live in a place where faith is part of the culture. where you don’t have to explain church or fight secularism so much.

6. We both learned that we want to live in a place like this, again.

Quite to our surprise, we have both been changed by this experience and we’ll go back different people than we were one year ago. We tried not to get too many souvenirs, knowing we wanted to fit everything back into our two cars soon. But we did buy one new picture for the wall of our house, a dairy cow with an attitude, or just a cow caught mid-moo.

We still have a lot to learn about farm animals.

Blessings, Pastor Susan

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Kathleen Henry
Kathleen Henry
Jun 07, 2023

Susan: This is an amazing story. I am intrigued by how much you enjoyed being in a culture where being part of church is more normal. Especially interesting because I was born in St. Louis and only came to NE when I was in kindergarten.

It truly is an uphill climb to serve churches in New England right now. Nancy is doing an excellent job at Dennis Union and I enjoy being part of things there. I was a bridge interim at Randolph last fall and the building felt like a museum to the past. I look forward to hearing what you will do next.

Kathleen Henry

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