Search PNC News for stories of people and churches in our UCC Conference:

New PNC Courtney Stange-Tregear leader says we are called to live out on a limb

Introducing herself by preaching at the Friday worship at the 2016 Annual Meeting April 29 in Wenatchee, Courtney Stange-Tregear, the PNC’s new minister for church vitality, introduced themes from Proverbs that “The right words at the right time are like golden apples in a silver setting.”

Rob Leveridge and Courtney Stange-Tregear lead worship.

Speakers repeated those words throughout the gathering.

“We have all said the wrong words at the wrong time, but the right words at the right time are rich and valuable,” she said, pointing out that Scriptures are full of the right words at the right times.”

“God saw creation and said it was good.”

“Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God and believe in me (Jesus).”

Beyond the rightness of words is the value of covenant relationships and holy connections.

A year ago after Freddy Gray, a 25-year-old African American who was arrested for allegedly possessing an illegal switchblade and died in a wild ride in a Baltimore police fan, Courtney attended rallies, vigils and prayer services, hoping for justice.

She worked with Baltimore United, a faith based group.

“The city was in chaos.  As it settled down, there was much talk and many sound bites.  We needed the right words,” she said.  “The group organized a listening campaign that reached 500 people.  We listened about the need for jobs to put Baltimore back to work.

“People were in fear, looking for corporate leaders to rebuild Baltimore and put the city back to work,” she said.

They asked President Ronald Daniels of John Hopkins University to “be our Nehemiah” to help heal and rebuild Baltimore. The room was silent as he responded, “I can be one of the Nehemiahs.”

“The right words at the right time are like golden apples in a silver setting,” Courtney repeated.

The faith, education and labor leaders “went out on a limb” to listen and bring healing, she said.

“How do we know if we are going out on a limb of if we are just being crazy?” Courtney asked.  “Apples do not grow in the ground or next to the trunk.  Some apples grow with blemishes and may be left.  Some ideas do not work.”

She pointed out that apples grow out on a limb.  They fall and become fertilizer for the next generation of trees.

None of us can turn away from what is hard.  We need to go out on a limb to find new life, to follow the Holy Spirit, to engage.  Out on a limb, we are called to live,” she said.  “God calls us out of our scary, dark places, out on a limb,” Courtney said.

Courtney has served as pastor of Zion UCC in Perry Hall, Maryland, near Baltimore.  While she grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, her studies took her all over the world—Annapolis, Chicago, Boston, the United Kingdom and China.

Her bachelor’s degree is from St. John College in Annapolis, her master’s in research and philosophy of religion from the University of Leeds, and her master of divinity in worship, theology and arts is from Andover Newton Theological School.

Her emphases in ministry are in social justice, educational ministry, worship, preaching and small groups. She, her husband Mark and their three children will move to Seattle in September..

She starts in September.


Copyright © June 2016 Pacific NW UCC News


Share this article on your favorite social media Bookmark and Share