In October, our congregation and the congregation of the Benton Falls Congregational Church welcomed Reverend Kimberly Shrader Schwartz. She is the designated pastor which means that she will be eligible to apply for the position of settled pastor if she so chooses once our search process begins.
Reverend Schwartz served as the minister of Vista Grande Community church in Colorado Springs. She led the congregation there since September 2007.
In her Statement on Ministry, she shared: “I received my Master’s in Divinity from the Institute of Ecumenical Theological Studies at Seattle University. Seattle University focuses on both academic and spiritual development in an ecumenical environment. Some of my biggest lessons came from my internships in school…..
I served my first church as a part-time interim pastor. This small rural church had been through some tough times. Through a combination of deep listening and encouragement, I helped this small, faithful band believe in themselves and in what God could do through them once again. This experience confirmed for me the power of Christian love to transform lives and situations. In my current call as a full time pastor, I find joy in weekly preaching, appreciate the importance of risk taking, including the inevitability of some failures and love the opportunities for creativity. I base my pastoral style on cooperating with the continuous and ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. Recognizing the Spirit’s work in each person and with the congregation as a whole, I am aware that I come in “in the middle of things”. God (who is always present) has been at work in the church before my arrival and will continue to be at work long after my time. To that end, I have found it works well to build upon people’s strengths and gifts through acknowledgement, encouragement, and personal accountability. It is vital to acknowledge the good work that has been done and to praise God for the gifts of the people. It is equally important to encourage development of people’s gifts and new leadership. Additionally, in order to safeguard the integrity of the church there must also be institutional accountability.
When I preach, I relate the Scriptures to the lives of the congregation. There is a connection between what we believe and what we do. So I will frequently ask, “how does what you believe shape your actions and how do your actions reflect your beliefs?” I believe God makes a difference in our lives, that our Creator loves us deeply and completely. When we allow the grace of that love to sink into our beings, it makes a very real difference in our lives. I think preaching and worship should remind us of that grace and love so that our everyday lives are enriched and transformed”.