We are delighted to introduce you to Rev. Laurie Lyter Bright who will begin as our Designated Interim Pastor for Congregational Care and Mission on June 22nd. Laurie is an ordained Presbyterian (Presbyterian Church U.S.A.) Pastor. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, spent two years at Princeton Theological Seminary and then received her Master of Divinity degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary. Currently, she is working on her Doctor of Philosophy in Education Sciences from Colorado State University with graduation anticipated in this next year.

Laurie currently serves as the Executive Director for Pilgrims of Ibilin, an international non-profit dedicated to a just and lasting peace in Palestine/Israel. They focus primarily on Palestinian community organizations and maintain partnership of many faiths and denominations dedicated to building a network of peace-building partnerships on both sides of the Green line. She also serves as the Bridge Pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Franklin, Wisconsin.

Prior to her current position, Laurie served for three years as the Pastor of First United Presbyterian Church of Loveland, Colorado. Before that, she was the Pastoral Associate at Wildwood Presbyterian Church, and the Program Coordinator of PACT (Public Achievement through Community Transformation.)

She published her first book in January of 2019, Vagabonding: In Defense and Praise of Millennial Faith and in the Fall of 2018 her article Woman in a Man’s Pulpit was published in the Journal of Feminist Theology.

 

Laurie has received many honors and certifications:

  • Rape Crisis Advocate comprehensive training;
  • C-SEC (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children) Prevention Training;
  • Lewis Fellowship of Outstanding Young Clergy;
  • Darkness to Light, Authorized Facilitator and Stewards of Children Certificate;
  • Kempe Center Primary, Second, and Tertiary child Sexual Abuse Perpetration Prevention Training;
  • Young Clergywomen International, writer in residence.

Laurie grew up in the north suburbs of Chicago but has lived in Illinois, New Jersey, Colorado, California, India, Austria, and the UK. She and her husband Jesse, their two-year-old daughter, Tillie (Matilda), their nine-month-old daughter, Sonora, and their dog, Nova are excited to plant roots in this region, moving to be closer to both of their families.

Laurie and husband Jesse

In responding to our church profile and job description, Laurie wrote, “… you have a clear sense of identity, a love of community, and a heart for the kind of total inclusivity that is a central part of my own theology. Your sense of mission seems thoroughly considered, and your attention to both local and global needs is clear. You radiate joy about your church even in a time of transition, and I think that’s significant and fantastic… I have previously served in all the capacities you’ve articulated for your Interim Pastor for Congregational Care and Mission. In a strong preacher, an adept community collaborator, and grounded in principles of critical theory which translates to a strong desire to put the voices of those we serve at the center of our decision-making… I have loved serving a community in the past as a pastor, and would relish the opportunity to do so again…”

What follows is a letter from Laurie to the congregation. We look forward to welcoming her to our church!

Dear First Congo Community,

Hi! I am incredibly excited to be joining you all as your designated Pastor for Mission and Congregational Care. I look forward to getting to know you all and diving into the life of First Congo!

By way of brief introduction, I’m a Chicago-area native, bibliophile, travel-loving, mom of two, introvert trapped in an extrovert’s personality. I’m a grad of the University of Illinois (undergrad, English Literature), Princeton Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union of Berkeley (MDiv), and am finishing my dissertation for a PhD in Education Sciences at Colorado State University.

While I’ve got a lot of commitment to many areas of ministry, particular areas of justice that call to me are interfaith collaboration, unraveling systemic racism, preventing human trafficking, ending gender-based violence, and child abuse prevention. I’ve had the opportunity to serve and learn in ministry from the Tenderloin in San Francisco to Loveland, Colorado to rural India to Cape Town, South Africa to London to Palestine to Pine Ridge. I’m a nomadic person, and have been reassured that there’s nowhere I can go that God won’t already be there waiting for me.

My husband, Jesse, is completing his Masters in nursing at Marquette, and is a passionate gardener, cook, cyclist, and all around adventurer. Our daughters, Tillie (Matilda, just turned 2) and Sonora (six months) keep us very busy, very happy, and rarely well-rested. Our dog, Nova, deserves a medal for patience.

My faith is predicated on the sense that God’s love is at the beginning and end of every story, and many thin spaces in between.

I’m incredibly humbled and excited by the call to serve First Congregational in Appleton and look forward to sharing the journey with you!

With joy,

Rev. Laurie Lyter Bright

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