Lead Pastor

Rev. Mary Dotson

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Dear Friends,

July is 1st here and I am very much looking forward to begin my time as your new Pastor.

I’d like to share a personal note further introducing my husband and me...

We are from the east coast, although we both have lived on the west coast as well. Ash was a United Methodist Pastor for 12 years before becoming an American Baptist pastor while I was pastoring a church in northern PA. We both missed the southwest and after several cold winters decided to move back. Bishop Hoshibata appointed me to the First UMC of Safford in 2017, where we have lived for the past three years.

Serving the church is a second career for both of us. Ash served in the Air Force and later was a test engineer for a large rocket company. (yes, we watched the Space X launch, and he knows every plane that flies overhead and those in movies). Along with being a Soccer Mom, volunteering with every organization group I could, I taught English as a Second language to mostly Japanese women in Southern California and did some freelance writing.

Like you all my husband Ash and I, along with our golden doodle Bella have been sheltering in place in our home these many weeks since early March. It’s been a challenge for us to do our jobs in a new way. Ash is a certified Spiritual Director who is also writing a devotional book on the Gospel of John. In addition, he is working to be a certified Enneagram professional through the internationally known Chestnut and Paes Enneagram Academy. Much of his work can be done by zoom and yet we all know the value of in person interactions. Please keep him prayer as he settles in a new community and works to build his Spiritual Direction practice.

Ash and I have three children. Ash’s daughter, Jenn and family live in Maryland near the Chesapeake Bay. They have 2 boys ages 12 and 10. My son, Ian and his family live in Southeast Philadelphia. Currently, he, his wife Ashley and sons (8 & 5) are sheltering in northern Vermont so the boys can explore nature during this time. My daughter Susan and her husband Zach also reside in South Philadelphia. Ash and I love to read theology/contemplative literature. I’m a Hildegard of Bingen fan and read Christine Valters Painter along with international novels that pertain to food. We love to explore the desert, rock hound and kayak. Having explored the Sonoran Desert in Southern Arizona we look forward to checking out the beauty that the Mohave will display for us.

As an extravert who also values alone time, I thrive more when I can be with the person or group I am speaking with; these weeks of sheltering in place, doing church via ZOOM and leading worship behind a camera while sitting in my home office have been challenging! Creative, and maybe even fun at times - but I miss in-person interactions with people. However, I was recently reminded that God had fun during creation. Proverbs 8:30-31 tells us: “I was beside him as a master of crafts. I was having fun, smiling before him all the time, frolicking with his inhabited earth and delighting in the human race.” Such an encouraging picture of God, Creator, Spirit and Wisdom enjoying the process of reshaping chaos into beauty. God wasn’t bogged down by the chaos but had fun with the process and enjoyed interacting with the outcome! As your pastor, I pledge, with God’s help to rise above the chaos and even have fun exploring how to live into our vision as the community if faith in Clark County. I trust that you too will attempt to enjoy the process - with God’s help.

Since the evening I met with your Staff Parish Relations Committee, I have been praying for them and for you, the greater GVUM Church family as we go through this process of transition. All pastoral transitions are challenging - there is a measure of grief involved for each of us. There are questions whether the current pastor will remember us, or you may wonder why they can’t still help you with your spiritual issues or officiate your wedding, etc.

And I am certain you have questions about me. Will she change the order of worship? Will I need to learn new hymns? Will her sermons be long or short - will her sermons speak to me? So, please, if you have questions, please email me or send a note to the office so that I can either respond to your concern through email or we can set up a time to meet.

Beginning from my first Sunday, I hope to help you get to know me by preaching from my favorite texts from scripture. I normally preach from the lectionary, but I often find that the summer Sundays are a great time to try something different.

Let me give you a little idea of my schedule in the office and how I go about my week. It’s been my practice, prior to going into the office to spend an hour in prayer and meditation. I will have office hours, Mondays I spend setting the order of worship for the coming Sunday. Wednesdays have been Sermon writing days. My “weekend” is Friday and Saturdays. I am grateful that our Bishop values pastors’ spiritual and mental health - Ash and I also find that this gives us time to reconnect with one another and unplug after a busy week. If you like to meet with me or wish to let me know about hospital admittance, emergencies, etc please email me or call the office. I will be free for appointments from Saturday through Wednesday.

If you are on Facebook, please do not hesitate to send me a friend request. On Facebook, I post sermon notes, quotes that may find their way into the sermon, articles that interest me and articles that I think are helpful for our walk with God. And there are always family interests posts :)

One more very important note: At the beginning of this transition time. I invite you to join me in a season of prayer. During this transitional time will you pray this prayer adapted from Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus?

Gracious God, through your Spirit, strengthen each of us in our inner selves. May Christ live in our hearts and as a result of having strong roots in Love, I ask that each of us who are members and friends of GVUMC will have the power to grasp Love’s width and length, height and depth, together. I pray that we will know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge, so that we will live full lives entirely in the fullness of God. Amen.

This is a time of new beginnings, as one of my favorite hymns says, a time to let go of the past and move on, to press forward together in Love.

Because of Jesus,

Pastor Mary