Though I’m no stranger to Waukesha County, having gone to Mukwonago schools and Carroll College, I moved around a bit before coming back to Wisconsin to be close to my family again. My father was a pastor at Vernon Presbyterian for 26 years and I was ordained there in 1988, so this is the area where I have my strongest roots.
I got my Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Seminary, where I came away with lifelong friends, a stronger and deeper faith, and a love of Korean cooking. (Thanks, Esther Kim!) I’ve had a few jobs since then, working as a nursing home chaplain and youth pastor out on Long Island and twice serving yoked churches in rural Iowa.
My love of learning led me to move to Nashville for doctoral studies at Vanderbilt. I furthered my theological education and diversified, becoming a teaching assistant in Anthropology as well as Religious Studies. Nashville really is the Athens of the South, as proven by their full size replica of the Parthenon. I enjoyed my time there, going on to teach part-time at Belmont University for 11 years, working at a religious publishing house, and preaching at a series of small churches all around the area.
I enjoyed gardening through the longer growing season down South, but Nashville is known for its high pollen count and my asthma is much better here, even during haying season.
My favorite part of being a preacher is the worship service. I love studying the Bible and trying to craft a meaningful sermon to truly and honestly convey the Word of the Lord. I also enjoy choosing hymns that are beautiful and relate to the biblical passages for the day or the times and seasons in our lives, generally. and choosing hymns that are beautiful and moving. And I cherish the opportunity to pray with and for the congregation, especially when we’re celebrating (or mourning) a major milestone in someone’s life.
I was immediately taken with Bethesda, not just because of the almost ‘Currier and Ives’ beauty of the church’s setting and sanctuary, but because of the authenticity of the people. As well as denoting a holy place devoted to worship, ‘sanctuary’ also means a place of safety and refuge. To me, Bethesda is a safe haven where you can be your real, unguarded self and be not just accepted for it, but loved. Thanks to the open-hearted members of the congregation, Bethesda is a refuge from the fast pace of our modern, stressful lives. The coziness of the sanctuary means I don’t need a microphone to be heard, so I can have more of a conversation with the congregation each Sunday.
When not working, I like to garden, cook, read fiction (especially science fiction and mysteries), walk my little dog Tillie in parks like Minooka and Lapham Peak. On Tuesdays, I like to take advantage of the $5 movie special run by Marcus Theatres. It’s my weekly treat. I also enjoy studying and writing about theology in pop culture, especially cult TV like “Xena”, “Buffy”, and “Star Trek”. I’ve long been fascinated and even inspired by the stories of healing and redemption found in television shows, and by the ways in which people find comfort, acceptance, and guidance in their fandoms. I’ve presented some of my work on the relationship between pop culture and religion at conferences around the U.S. and as far away as England.
Thank you for your time,
Rev. Lori Patton