March 14, 2021
Dear Friends in Christ of St. Paul’s UMC,
May the grace and peace of our Loving God be with you this day!
I am looking forward to partnering with you in ministry in July, as together we offer the love of Christ to Ithaca and far beyond. I continue to uplift you, Pastor Teressa, and the staff at St. Paul’s in my prayers as we all prepare for this transition in pastoral leadership. And I thank you for your prayers for me and my family during this time of change.
I look forward to getting acquainted with you, the history of St. Paul’s, and your visions for the church’s future after I arrive in July. We will arrange for small groups of folks to gather this summer to share our stories together in a safe way.
I have been asked to briefly introduce myself to you in this letter. But, rather than giving you the multi-volume edition, I will just choose a few highlights to share.
First ~ FAMILY: I grew up as a “preacher’s kid” in the parsonages and communities of the former Wyoming Conference, where my father served as a pastor. That Conference, my family, and a few faithful congregations nurtured my faith, and confirmed my call to ministry. My father passed away in 2011, and my mother lives with me now. I have three siblings who life in the North Country and Capital Region of New York State. I also have three amazing young adult children: Paul is a licensed local pastor serving Christ UM Church in Troy, NY. Marthalyn is a physician assistant employed at Planned Parenthood in Syracuse. And Daniel is a graduate student at the University at Buffalo studying for a Masters in Exercise Science.
Next ~ PASTORAL MINISTRY: Since responding to God’s call to serve in pastoral ministry in 1981, I have had the privilege of serving several precious congregations in the former Wyoming Conference, the Upper New York Conference, and even one in the California-Nevada Conference while engaged in a pastoral exchange. I have several special passions in ministry which include creative worship design, justice ministries, camping ministry, developing spiritual and organizational leadership through mentoring and coaching, just to name a few! I love working with persons of all ages, and I have a special place in my heart for young children. I am usually looking for ways to take the church out into the community, providing witness and ministry to all! I feel privileged to be welcomed into the family of the church, and seek to bring joy in our journey of faith together. I am one of the strange ones that enjoys church administration, too!
And ~ MORE MINISTRY: In addition to local church pastorates, I have also served as Program Director at Sky Lake Camp and Retreat Center, and as District Superintendent assigned to the Northern Flow District. In addition to Conference leadership positions, I have been honored to be elected several times as a delegate to the UM General and Jurisdictional Conferences. My desire and calling in this role is to influence a positive shift in our denomination in order to become fully inclusive, anti-racist, and expressive of all of the love Christ blesses us to share.
HOBBIES AND JOYS: There are many activities in which I engage for enjoyment. I love quilting (sewing and hand-quilting), crafting, walking, kayaking, swimming, and music. I enjoy exploring communities, parks, fairs, museums, etc… From the few times that I have been in Ithaca, I expect to have plenty to sites to see and explore. I also love animals. So you don’t need to worry about your furry family members interacting with me when I visit! Despite what my children will tell you, I don’t just stop to talk with all of the animals at the fair just to embarrass my family. I really have a special connection with the creatures with whom we share this earth.
I do look forward to being a part of the Ithaca community and joining you in ministry. Between now and when join together, may your Easter celebrations be joyous, and may the Holy Spirit embolden your desire to serve with compassion and care!
‘Serving Christ with Joy!
Rev. Beckie Sweet