HI. My name is Vangie and I’ll be your new pastor.
I could imagine you are curious about me. Let me introduce myself by sharing some of my story.
I grew up in a logging family in Forks. Part of the reason for my move is because they are dealing with some health issues. My Dad almost died last year. He recuperated somewhat, but is now living in extended care. Mom still lives in the house, and they see each other daily.
I was not raised Methodist. Though my Dad’s side of the family is largely Free Methodist, and my mother is from a long line of Salvation Army officers, they raised me in a church part of the I.F.C.A. (Independent Fundamentalist Churches of America). There was much about that brand of faith that I find stifling.
By the time I moved to Olympia to attend The Evergreen State College (Go Geoducks!), I was an atheist. I ended up at one of the meetings of the only Christian group on campus. I was quite angry: at God, religion, inequality, oppression in general, etc. Some of these Christians held space for me, endured my ire, and loved me even if they didn’t have the answers. I chose to follow Jesus by the end of that first summer.
Following Jesus brought me through different churches and ministries around the world. I joined and left the Salvation Army, and though I disagree on a couple things, have a strong affection for them as part of my heritage. I dabbled in Emergent Church where we were encouraged to ask and live in the questions. I did a summer mission in Mexico City where I taught English at a church. I taught English at a high school in Budapest, Hungary for a year. I returned to Olympia to be a campus minister back at my beloved Evergreen in Olympia. Evergreen Students for Christ was supported by 10 different evangelical churches in the area.
In 2007, I moved to Seattle to attend seminary. I lived in Belltown and was a barista for 10 years. The first 5 of those years was at Pike Place Market. I graduated from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology with my Master of Divinity. It’s a unique school, coming out of the Emergent movement, which specializes in counseling psychology.
In 2008, I walked into Seattle First United Methodist Church. One of the pastors said, “You are welcome here”. I’ve heard that said many times, but I could sense that she actually meant it. This church meant it. I came out of a more conservative, evangelical world. Here, I didn’t have to fake anything or pretend I had it all together. They held space for me as I faced some hard things in my life, struggled deeply, and became more of my authentic self.
I have a Wesleyan heritage, and I climbed up the Wesleyan ladder. John Wesley’s theology is more liberating than I think he realized. Papa Wesley wasn’t perfect, but his emphasis on Grace is bigger than any of those early people called Methodists could fathom.
Centralia First United Methodist is my 3rd appointment. My first appointment was as an associate pastor at Haller Lake UMC in North Seattle. I just left Oroville UMC and Tonasket Community Church (UCC).
I have a fat orange tabby named Rocky, and I will talk about him a lot. My best friend lives in Los Angeles. I visit her once or twice a year. My favorite color is blue and my favorite instrument is they synthesizer. My final project for seminary was on what the United Methodist Church could learn from Electronic Dance Music (EDM).
I happy to move to this area. I plan on doing a lot of exploring on my feet, and finding the best coffee shops and pubs.
I’m thrilled to pastor a church that chose to join the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN). Being a place that is open and affirming to everybody is very much needed to so many who have experienced harm because of their identity. May we become a peaceful refuge and a safe place for those who are hurting.
Though I lived in Olympia in my 20s (I’ll be 42 in mid-July), Lewis county is somewhat new to me. Perhaps you can take my newness to explore with me. I invite you to rediscover the community. Let’s also explore ways to creatively praise and seek the Creator Who loves us.
Let us love and grow together as we make new relationships with those outside our church.
Centralia First United Methodist Church 506 S Washington Ave 98531 360-736-7311