Bonfire smoke competes with the large, wet snowflakes but still seen through that screen are the bright colors of farewell signs (“Stay in touch. Stay safe. Stay close to God”) and the periwinkle coat of the morning’s honoree.
A drive-thru farewell outside Long Lake’s Calvin Presbyterian Church Feb. 21 feted the woman who has shaped many of their lives these past 14 years, Pastor Carol Reed.
Reed had joined Calvin Presbyterian in June of 2007 and gave her last sermon there Feb. 14 this year. She now trades Calvin for Central Presbyterian in St. Paul.
“It’s pretty emotional. Bummed for us but happy for the people in St. Paul,” said Kate Boylan, a lifelong member at Calvin.
Still unknown is who will take Reed’s place at the pulpit. Mark Bilyeu with Calvin Presbyterian said that guest pastors from the larger community would be filling in until a permanent replacement is found to lead the 120-member congregation in services.
Reed said her pursuit of ministry, like her transition from Long Lake to St. Paul, was something she felt called by God to do. “I don’t make major decisions without a lot of prayer.”
At first the call to ministry didn’t seem especially plausible, said Reed. “At the time I started seminary I had never heard a woman preach, so it was kind of surprising to me, like ‘are You sure this is what You want me to do?’” she said with a laugh.
But this graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stout went on to complete her Master’s of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and to earn her Doctor’s of Ministry from Luther Seminary in St. Paul.
While at Calvin, Reed has encouraged community engagement “outside of the church walls,” getting its members involved in community meals, creating the front lawn labyrinth and prairie gardens and making Calvin a site for Orono’s after school SPARKS tutoring program.
More indelible, though, have been her interactions with people, she said.
“When you are a pastor, you are walking with people through the most difficult and most joyful times of their lives, through illness and death and marriage and birth. You’re entering into families in their most significant times in their life,” said Reed. “They invite you into their families and into their lives […] It’s a small church but it’s a very caring community. I leave behind a lot of people that I really care about,” she said. “It’s been a part of my life for many years. That’s the hard part about leaving.”
Hard, too, has been the past year of pre-recorded and, since January, live-streamed services, said Reed.
“Church is about community and suddenly community was happening in a very one-dimensional form,” she said. “People are part of a church in part because of the community of faith. To have that via phone calls and maybe cards in the mail—it’s just not the same, it’s been flattened.”
Calvin was able to hold a couple of outdoor social gatherings last summer but didn’t do any outdoor services. It made Sunday’s drive-thru party all the more a treat, she said.
Reed steps into the sanctuary at Central Presbyterian for the first time this Sunday, March 7 to deliver her first sermon as a pastor there.
“My goal is always to have meaningful worship services that touch people and bring a message of hope and a message of encouragement and of service,” she said.