Hitting Pause: A Progressive Pastor Heads Home
By: Sherry Gragg, Photo by Brant Mills
The Rev. Hannah Terry, Community Pastor of Westbury UMC and St. Marks UMC Houston, considers herself an evangelical progressive who loves Jesus. With the Traditional plan passing at GC2019, she is finding that her multi-faceted identity at once comforting and shrouded in grief.
Terry is not a delegate. She felt drawn by the Holy Spirit from Houston to St. Louis to bear witness to what she terms “family business.” “The United Methodist Church is my family,” she said. “So as a pastor in a very diverse congregation, I feel really very aggrieved here because I think about my church back home and how it affects them as a diverse congregation.” Terry asserts that her church family back in Houston values their diversity, including theological diversity, as a force that makes them stronger in their mission to bear witness to the love and call of Jesus. And as the tide of GC2019 seems to move toward the Traditional Plan, she is disappointed.
But she is also encouraged. “I love meeting people from across the connection,” she said. During her first General Conference in 2012, Terry was deeply moved by her interactions with the global church. It is a fellowship that has continued to bring her comfort during GC2019.
As the conference winds down, she is eager to go home to Houston to reunite with her congregations. Westbury and St. Mark’s Houston will take time to seek God in prayer during the days ahead, trusting that the Holy Spirit will guide them in the next steps of ministry. “Coming here has afforded me clarity around my call as a pastor and my particular voice to my people,” she said. “As far as next steps, I know people are very anxious. For now, we hit the pause button and trust the Holy Spirit to show us.”