Grace and Peace to you in the name of our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Many of you have asked how my trip to Florida went for Kerri True’s ordination, so I thought I
would take an opportunity here to tell you all about it and share some photos with you. But first, I
realized that many of you who are new may not have met Kerri. So, let me tell you a little about
her and her journey to ordination.
Kerri and I met about six years ago through mutual friends. Kerri is an Indy area native, a
graduate of Indiana University, and when we met she was a Psychology professor at Ball State.
Kerri was baptized in the United Methodist Church and she attended Saint Luke’s when she
lived in Indy, and upon moving to Muncie she attended College Avenue United Methodist
Church. But, as fate (or, the Holy Spirit) would have it, she was actually looking for a new
church home when the folks of Lutheran Church of the Cross called me to be their pastor.
Now, truth be told, she had visited LCC in the past. She found you all to be delightful, and she
liked Pastor Elaina. But, and this is the part I like to tease her about, she thought that there was
TOO MUCH music during the service. However, as my friend, she decided to come support me
on my first Sunday in the pulpit here at LCC. And, I’ll be darned if that Holy Spirit didn’t continue
to convince her to keep coming back on Sundays and to eventually join LCC.
Speaking of the Holy Spirit, it wasn’t long until after joining LCC that she felt the Spirit guiding
her to discern a calling to ordained ministry. So she invited me to help her in that discernment,
and I connected her with the necessary folks in our Bishop’s office. Those folks, along with our
Synod’s Candidacy Committee, continued to help her discern this calling and it wasn’t long until
she enrolled in classes at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis.
She completed her classes, and it became time to find an internship site. She was hoping to find
a site in Florida that would be close to where her mother lived, this also meant she would have
the opportunity to connect with the Florida-Bahamas Synod and hopefully find a church call
there after her internship. And, wouldn’t you know it, the Holy Spirit continued to move through
the process and Kerri was able to find a church to serve as intern within an hour of where her
Now, we have to pause and talk about this church, because it is quite the place. Not only does
Trinity Lutheran Church in Bradenton, Florida have a beautiful sanctuary, it is filled with
wonderful people; I got to meet many of them. TLC has four services every weekend; one on
Saturday evening, and three on Sunday Morning. Pastor Bobbie Blackburn has served TLC for
nearly thirty years, and in her time there she has supervised and mentored TWENTY FOUR
interns. This commitment to hosting interns is quite a gift to the entire ELCA church body.
Now, this tradition of being a popular internship site has ended the same way for the first twenty
three interns who have served there, they all left TLC and accepted calls to ministries
throughout the United States. However, this would not be the case for intern number twenty
four. No, the Holy Spirit moved among the people and ministries of TLC and they decided the
church needed a full time Associate Pastor to serve alongside Pastor Bobbie. And, they thought
that their twenty fourth intern, Kerri True, would make a suitable candidate to interview for this
associate position. So, Kerri spent a little time in discernment, and decided that she would be
glad to interview for the position. And, as it turned out, it all seemed agreeable to the Holy Spirit,
Kerri, and the people of TLC. So, they offered her a call as their Associate Pastor and she
Kerri let me know the good news, and I told her that I would see if I could swing making the trip
down to be present. It would be a long shot due to my wife’s ankle recovery. A week or so later I
emailed her to ask if the congregation at LCC could get her a stole or anything else she may
need as an ordination gift. She texted me within minutes to say that the best gift the
congregation could give her would be if they could help me make my way down to Florida for
the service so that I could preach and present her for ordination. No Pressure! So, once my wife
assured me that she would be okay in my absence, I ran Kerri’s request by June. June assured
me that we could make it happen. And, that’s exactly what you, the people of LCC did, you
made it happen.
I flew out of Dayton at 1:30pm on Friday, had a layover in Charlotte, had an hour delay for the
next flight, landed in Sarasota at 8:30pm, got picked up by Kerri, smothered in the Florida
humidity, grabbed a beer and a bite to eat, and then got dropped off at the hotel and tried to get
the wrinkles out of my Alb and Stole (they were packed in a carry on) before I tried to get some
sleep. Got picked up by Kerri at 9am to head to the church to prepare things for the service at
11am. Got to meet Pastor Bobbie, Bishop Pedro Suarez, and a handful of other clergy; they
were all lovely. The ordination and installation service itself was also lovely. Delicious fried
chicken was served afterwards, and they “roasted” Kerri as they gave her gifts during the
festivities. We left the church at 3pm and went to have one celebratory beer because Kerri had
to be back at church by 4:30pm to prepare for their 5:30 evening service. Kerri dropped me
back off at the hotel, we said our farewells, and I relaxed until I went to bed around 10pm. I was
awake around 3:30am in order to catch an “interesting” Lyft ride to the airport so that I could
make my 6am flight. After a short layover in Atlanta, I was back in Dayton at 10:30am and back
home in Muncie before 1pm. What. A. Whirlwind. But, well worth it!
I tell you the whole story, because I think it’s a story worth telling. It’s been amazing to watch
Kerri’s journey to ordination and see the Holy Spirit at work through the whole process. And I tell
you, the people of LCC, this story because you were an important part of it! Not just because
you called Kerri’s friend to be your pastor, but because you welcomed her when she was
looking for a church home. Your hospitality, your kindness, your friendship, your reverence for
the liturgy, and your commitment to creating church community; all while being led by the Holy
Spirit, put you in Kerri’s life when she needed you. Thanks be to God!
Kerri sends her thanks for helping me make it down there. I give you thanks for giving me the
opportunity to be present for my friend. And, I give thanks for this church that I’ve been blessed
with the opportunity to serve.
Soli Deo Gloria,