As Minister of Pastoral Care, Laura assists the pastors to ensure that Oak Hill UMC members and friends who cannot “come to church” experience a one-on-one connection with God and their church family. Her ministry involves regular visitation with the hospitalized, the homebound, and nursing home or assisted-living residents. Laura also reaches out to people who suffer acute or chronic illness and those who grieve the death of a loved one. She preaches and teaches special classes occasionally. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Where did you grow up and how did you make your way to Austin?
I was born and raised in western Nebraska, the oldest of seven children. I came to Texas in 1972 and lived in Austin for several years, where my then-husband earned a Master’s in Computer Science at UT and was hired by IBM. Both of our children were born at the old Seton Hospital. After my graduation from Southwestern University in Georgetown in 1986, we moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where I earned a Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Following graduation in 1989, I returned to Texas to begin my first appointment at Utopia UMC.
What is your former work experience?
I served churches throughout the Southwest Texas/Rio Texas Conference for 27 years. I also was active in the Emmaus community; served for 12 years on the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry; and provided leadership as a covenant connection chair and/or liaison pastor several times, where we guided and evaluated provisional pastors moving toward full ordination. I retired from active ministry in July 2016 after serving as senior pastor at Manchaca UMC for seven years.
When did you start at Oak Hill UMC?
August 1, 2017
What are your primary duties?
My title is Minister for Pastoral Care. I am a half-time staff person with a focus on pastoral care with church members who can no longer come to church. Most of my time is dedicated to visiting Oak Hill UMC’s homebound, as well as residents of senior living facilities and nursing homes. I also make hospital visits on Mondays and Wednesdays. I assist with lay-led worship at Legacy Oaks Senior Living Center once a month and attend lay-led worship at Sodalis Memory Care. I preach occasionally and teach adult classes now and then. My goal is to remind our elderly and sick members that the church remembers them, prays for them, and loves them.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Meeting lots of new people.
How does your position help minister to others?
My hope is that I provide a link between the church and our homebound, so that the church is enabled to more fully minister to those who no longer are able to be active members.
What first interested you in the ministry?
When I entered the Christian Education program as a full-time student at Southwestern University in Georgetown, my goal was to serve on church staffs as a Christian educator. I ended up with double majors in psychology and Christian education. About halfway through my time at Southwestern University, I experienced a call to ordained ministry. I used the remaining two years as a testing ground for my call–I became more active in worship leadership in my church and served as a chapel assistant at Southwestern. In the end, I decided the call was real.
Where is your passion in ministry?
I’ve always experienced a strong call to preach. And I love working with a wide variety of people, getting to know them and empowering them to grow in their faith, to try new things, and to serve where God calls them to serve.
What is one thing that few people know about you?
In a much earlier life, I was a beauty operator.
Describe Oak Hill UMC in one word.