As Lady Boomers it’s inevitable we will be facing transitions as we venture into this next chapter of our lives. Last Sunday was one of those transition points as my church bid farewell to our Associate minister, Karen Barker Duncan, who is retiring to the west coast of Florida. Karen joined our ministerial team on September 15, 2001. Maybe because we were in need of hope in the aftermath of 9/11, we launched a program called The Jeremiah Project, an after school and summer arts enrichment program for at risk middle school aged students in our community. Karen was the grant writer extraordinaire, I was the art director, and her husband Roger, the director of our computer center. In the ensuing years, we have served well over 2,000 kids. These were and are kids who don’t have computers in their homes or access to art programming in schools or art centers.
One of Karen’s gifts is helping people identify their own gifts. She did that for me. She encouraged me (ok, maybe nagged) to seek commission status in the UCC (our denomination) as a minister of the arts. She was at my side throughout the commissioning process. My story is by no means an isolated one. There are countless others of Karen quietly urging, supporting and encouraging her parishioners. The thing about Karen is that she doesn’t possess the kind of ego that often gets other clergy in trouble. She didn’t feel the calling to stand up and sermonize, preferring instead to develop programming to enrich our faith community. She’s funny, self effacing and loving.
I have a lump in my throat as I write this post. I realize this is Karen’s transition as she ventures off into her new life, but it feels like one for me as well. I gave Karen and Roger a sculpture I created entitled “Beauty and the Beach”. The sentiment behind the piece is that the beach (where she will be living) is a place of acceptance and equality regardless of age, income level, color, or species. Just like the sense of place I felt with my Karen friend.