I Carried You With Me Into My Research


The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster

I am so grateful to have had time away to study and be with my family. I spent January in Indiana with my parents and February in Tennessee with my husband’s parents. It was such a gift for my son to finally be able to see his grandparents, and for us to spend time with our parents who we missed dearly during this year of online-only grandparenting.

As I think many of you know, in addition to time with family, I also had time to study thanks to a grant from the Louisville Institute. It was probably the most intensive period of study I’ve had since 2007 when I finished my MDiv, and I realized that, for me, theological exploration has a transcendent quality. Reading theology connects me to the divine.

I thought of you all often. For example, I thought quite a bit about how Kenilworth Union embodies (in my estimation) a creative, life-giving approach to Christian faith as a multi/non/poly-denominational congregation committed to freedom of thought. Here’s a little picture into what I found most meaningful in relation to this congregation that you love:

  • At Kenilworth Union, you will not find “a single, smoothe, systematic articulation of reality and God, but a rough, textured, polyphony of cries, songs and praises.” (L. Callid Keefe-Perry, Way to Water). That polyphony of commitments to God and community give this place an honest, hospitable, wide welcome table in which lives are truly transformed.
  • At Kenilworth Union, you know that “when imagination fails doctrines become ossified, witness and proclamation wooden, doxologies and litanies empty, consolations hollow, and ethics legalistic.” and so you thrive within a faith environment that seeks new ways to express and acknowledge the presence of God in everyday life, while still yet drinking deep of the ancient wells of wisdom found in scripture and Christian tradition (Amos Wilder, Theopoetic).
  • At Kenilworth Union, you know that “before the Great Silence, all words fail. But even the words that fail need to be spoken” and so you find intuitive ways to carve out silence and listening as spiritual practices, while also spending time articulating how you do in fact tangibly experience God in your embodied IRL existence (Carl McColman, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism).
  • You sense that “poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought” (Audre Lorde, Poetry is not a Luxury) and therefore you seek to name the ineffable so that you might be ever-more connected to the Unnamable One in whom we live and move and have our being.

I saw you in all the books I read, in all the questions I asked, in all the prayers I prayed, and all the notes I scribbled. I carried you with me into my research and am grateful for the daily work of carrying my research back into my everyday life as your pastor. I’m glad to be back. I’d love to catch up. Send me an email and we’ll make time. I can’t wait until we can see each other in person again. Soon.

March 18, 2021

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