Greetings to you! May God’s grace and peace follow you through your days!
I want to let you know that I will not be with you the next two weeks. I will be taking a short vacation to visit my daughter in Vermont. The trip was planned before my internship was over to mark the transition between seminary and the real world – plus I haven’t seen her for over a year. Don Holmes will be leading you in worship these two weeks. Greet him warmly!
During the education hour last Sunday, we began some conversations to get to know each other better. Mostly those that were there got to know me a bit better. (I talked more than I intended.). When I return, it will be your turn. I want to know about Grace. Be thinking about what you might want me to know about you:
What brought you to Grace?
What are your memories of the best times at Grace?
What are your memories of the worst times at Grace?
What are your hopes and dreams for Grace?
What are your fears for Grace?
Anything else you want to tell me – these questions are just to get you started!
I’m looking forward to my vacation, but also to returning to you in two weeks. In the meantime, may God be with you!
Darlene Hopkins was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. Though she felt the call to the ministry as early as her teenage years, life took her in a different direction. After earning her BA in English and MA in Elementary Education at Austin College and teaching for a short time, she pursued a long career in technology that included entrepreneurship, web development, application programing and data analysis, and even a two-year stay in Sydney, Australia. While she remained active at Trinity Lutheran Church, doing everything from teaching Sunday school, coordinating weddings and serving as an assistant minister to performing in choir, handbell choir, and a Zimbabwean marimba band, her career remained secular. However, when it came time for retirement, she didn’t feel that her professional—or spiritual—journey was over.
That call that she’d felt for so many years was even stronger now. She whetted her appetite for ministry at her synod’s Parish Lay Ministry Academy, but it only inspired her to learn more. When the Luther Seminary offered her the Jubilee Scholarship that would cover her tuition as she pursued her next degree, she took it as a message that it was time to make her teenage dreams a reality.
She has recently completed her Master of Divinity at Luther Seminary, which included an internship at Atonement Lutheran Church in Overland Park, Kansas. From writing papers to sharing comfort with those in need as a chaplain during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, her continued education has given her opportunities for personal growth and outreach that she never could have imagined.
“I am energized and enlivened by doing and learning new things,” says Darlene. “The world is too vast and too diverse to not keep learning and growing.”
Darlene has been married to husband Johnny for 39 years, and is a loving and supportive mother to her only child, Elise, and her grandchildren, Danté and Ezzy. Her favorite colors are purple and blue, and her hobbies include, reading, sewing, cross-stitch and seeking out adventure, whether it be wilderness hiking through White Pocket National Monument in Arizona, fly-fishing in Colorado, or driving up to Kansas in her convertible with just a suitcase in her trunk and God’s love in her heart.
She can’t wait to continue to learn and grow with Grace in the coming months.
This coming Sunday September 18 during the education hour (9:00 am) I would like to take some time for us to get to know each other. There are a couple of reasons for this. I am new here and I don’t know any of you. The better I get to know you, the better I will be able to serve you with sermons and educational offerings tailored to your needs. And I want you to feel like you can trust me if you should need to talk to someone during a difficult time. Hopefully, the better you know me – who I am and where I came from – that trust will be strengthened. I think we will all benefit from this process. This Sunday will just be the beginning. I have four questions I want us to consider:
What do I want you to know about me?
What do you want to know about me?
What do you want me to know about you?
What do I want to know about you?
We’ll take several weeks to consider these. (There will be a break on September 25 and October 2 because I am going to Vermont to visit my daughter and her family – a trip that was planned even before the end of my internship.) Come join us for some thoughtful conversation. This week, I’ll bring the doughnuts!
If anyone would like a pastoral visit, or knows someone who might like a pastoral visit, please call the church and leave a message at 817-370-7427 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I can bring communion to those who are unable to attend church in person. I’m also open to having coffee or lunch with anyone who might want to have a conversation with me. (I would pay for my own meal.)
This Sunday’s Gospel reading is a difficult one. I’ve had to do some careful study to understand it. Come join us and see what I have come up with!