Two new ministers are being welcomed at Arvada United Methodist Church this month. Rev. Stephanie Kidwell and Rev. Dr. Eric Smith replace the Reverends Rusty Butler and Valerie Oden who served the church for more than nine years.
The new pastors share a love of worship and preaching as well as what the church means today. In a recent interview Pastor Eric spoke about how the church can be a launching pad for families to learn about morality and ethics and how do you love your neighbor in today’s world. Pastor Stephanie added that families look very different—with two parent families, single parent families, parents who are members of the LGBTQ community, people without children or a partner, stressing all are welcomed at AUMC.
“We may not heal the rift but we stand as a bridge,” she said when talking about she and Pastor Eric can help heal the division that many feel within the United Methodist denomination as well as the nation. Her past experience, she said, has helped develop her ability to fill the gap between those well versed in church language and to people who haven’t been involved in a faith community. This ability extends as well as to conservative and progressive voices. Pastor Stephanie sees her job in the next six months as developing relationship with all the people of the church as well as the community.
Along with developing relationships, Pastor Eric spoke about having new discussions in the next six months with church members such as the possibility of the church becoming a sanctuary church and a possible trip to Israel. He has worked and enjoyed many diverse communities including working with Muslims and Jews in his prior church. “We can choose to see what unites us not what divides us. Jesus,” he said, “not only connects us to God but to each other.”
Like the previous pastors, the new clergy will serve as co-pastors meaning that they share equal responsibility and authority, a unique model for churches. Pastor Eric said it will be a challenge for both the clergy and the congregation to learn how to work with them as a team without usurping the power of the other. Pastor Stephanie echoed her colleague adding that it will fun to see it unfold and commented on the positive factor of having the energy of two people in the same positions.
Pastor Stephanie’s last assignment was lead pastor for five year at Longs Peak United Methodist Church in Longmont. Prior to Longs Peak she served in Berthoud, Grand Junction, and Wheat Ridge. She has a B.A. from Purdue University, a J.D. from Indiana University School of Law and earned her Master of Divinity from Iliff School of Theology.
Pastor Eric will celebrate 30 years of ministry this year having most recently served as senior minister at Park Hill United Methodist Church for five years. He earned a master of social work from University of Denver and a Master of Divinity and Doctorate of Ministry from Iliff School of Theology.
The church is excited to welcome these vibrant, energetic leaders and hope you will come to see what is happening there. Arvada United Methodist is located at 6750 Carr Street and has Sunday services at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Find more information about the church and upcoming events at www.arvadaumc.org .