By Keith Skenandore
It was in July 2007 that Pastor Rebecca Henry received the call that she was to deliver God’s message to the Seymour Community.
Now 10 years later, Henry has been called to Neenah/Menasha to do the same.
Upon her arrival in Seymour, Henry, now 43, recalls meeting Pastor Frank Block and he told her to just love the people and you’ll be fine.
“That’s so true about ministry,” she said. “When you just love each other and you let that guide you even through challenges and disagreements, that love keep you open to each other and caring for each other.
“That’s certainly one of those messages that I will take with me.”
She said Pastor Block and the United Methodist Church had a lot of history together.
“Despite that history,” Henry said, “With Pastor Ben and myself, they have been open to change. This community was open to trying new things.
“That speaks volumes to who this church is and what God is doing through them.
In the United Methodist Church, the Bishop sends the pastors to their various appointments.
Prior to her arrival in Seymour, she was serving shared covenant ministries in Lowell, Juneau and Horicon, a cooperative parish with the churches in those three towns.
Then she was called to Seymour.
“The church was very inviting and had a lot they were already doing cooperatively,” Henry said.
She knew, as did her husband Joe, that it would be a good place to raise their family. They have two children, Hannah, 10, and Jacob 5.
“It was pleasant,” she said. “It was a welcoming community.”
The Henry children are sad to be leaving friends.
“It’s been such a good place for them,” Henry said. “But they are also excited about some of the possibilities.”
Those possibilities will be with the Neenah/Menasha First United Methodist Church. September 10 will be her first Sunday in the pulpit.
“There is the promise and that hope knowing that God calls us to new situations and that there are a lot of possibilities of ways that God will continue to work through me at Neenah/Menasha,” Henry said. “It’s a church that is engaged in the community and social issues.”
She said there is most definitely grief over leaving the community of Seymour and the New Life United Methodist Church.
“There are wonderful memories here that we experienced as a family,” Henry said. “Experiences within the church which have been awe-inspiring to see what God can do.
One of the more memorable changes was the merger of the two congregations (Seymour and Cicero) to form New Life United Methodist Church.
“To be a church that is relevant and engaged with the community and all the changes that are happening,” she said, “is what I loved about the community and their growth and growth within herself.
“That’s one of the things I loved about serving in this community is the ways that I have experienced myself being challenged and growing as a person and as a pastor.”
Henry was asked, prior to her final Sunday in the pulpit in June, what would be going through her mind during her last day at the pulpit at New Life Methodist Church.
A choked up Henry replied, “It’s going to be difficult. It’s hard to believe that it is really going to happen. It just doesn’t seem real.”
After a long pause to gather her emotions she added, “I know God is calling me to go on. There will be great things ahead, but there is no doubt in my mind that God sent me here. I have been blessed in so many ways that it makes it very hard to say good-bye.
“It has been a community that has embraced and loved me and my family for all the gifts we have to offer. It’s hard to leave a community where you have been loved.”