Listening to our Hearts

Listening to our Hearts


May 22, 2024
A Note from Pastor April

Dear Friends,

I’ve been back from my renewal leave for six months this week, and I continue to feel the benefits of those four months away. Some of the gifts were expected — rest, time with family and friends, and a chance to travel were among the highlights. One of the greatest gifts, however, was entirely a surprise.

The time away gave me time to LISTEN to what my heart truly desires.

I’m not just talking about the simple things that my heart desires all the time: Love, connection, ice cream, delicious coffee, time walking through the woods.

I’m talking about the bigger dreams that were just under the surface… things that didn’t seem possible amid the business of everyday life.

coffee with Christell

I shared about one of those dreams shortly after I got home, the dream of becoming fluent in Spanish. Six months later and I’m still practicing each day and meeting with my friend Christell every week.

I can feel what a difference it is making and how much joy I continue to have every time I am speaking Spanish.

The second dream had been stirring under the surface for a while. I’ve always been attracted to learning about the things that explain how we can grow and evolve in ways that are more grounded in wisdom, love, compassion, and dignity.

As I thought about all I had been experiencing and learning over these seven years at Hilliard UMC, I knew I wanted a chance to dive deeper in a formal education setting.

I looked at a lot of different programs and found one that not only spoke to my heart but is also grounded in the value of spirituality and its place in the overall development of humanity. So, I’ve applied and been accepted to an all-online Ph.D. program in Transformative Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies.

REMAINING your Lead Pastor

On September 1, in addition to REMAINING your Lead Pastor here at HUMC, I will begin those studies part-time.

I’ve been in conversations with both our Staff Parish Committee and Church Council for some time about this as well as with the Cabinet and the Bishop (who finally gave their final sign off last week!), and they have graciously agreed to move me down to 30 hours a week.

This will allow the other ten hours to be focused on my online schoolwork for the next season, which, let’s be honest, could go on for five years or so. There will be a subsequent reduction in pay, which will also help out our budget in this season.

How will this impact the staff and church? (and you specifically?)

Hopefully not too much. As we prepare for this transition, we’ll be working to make some adjustments in my workload so that we’re working smarter not harder.

That may include a few more folks (retired clergy and current laity) being invited into the preaching rotation, some folks helping out with pastoral care (we’re starting to build that team already), and exploring ways to increase the administrative support I’ll need to make sure the important things are all remaining a priority.

I welcome your thoughts, prayers, and suggestions as all of that unfolds, specifically about any areas of concern you may see.

Where God is moving

I’m following this nudge from the Spirit less with a plan of “what I want to do with the degree” and much more with the resonance of what I feel in soul and spirit, that this is where God is moving, and I just need to take one step at a time.

Sometimes it’s less about the destination and more about the journey itself!

I expect to be using much of the shared work we are doing together as a part of my research and vice versa — I hope to be sharing what I’m learning to inform our best practices as a congregation.

Mostly, I’m looking forward to seeing how God continues to move and DEEPLY grateful to serve in a place that supports this kind of decision.

Many Blessings!

Pastor April

The Rev. April Blaine
Lead Pastor

Reverend April Blaine, Lead Pastor
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