PATHWAYS Level 1 Graduation


PATHWAYS is proud to announce seven graduates who have successfully completed all of the Level 1 courses in a little over two years as the pilot cohort. Representing both lay and authorized local church leaders of two UCC conferences—the Southeast and the Iowa conference— they journeyed through thick and thin, pushing the limits of their imagination in theological reflection and community building done online.  We want to acknowledge the work of the following graduates:

Amber Kirkendoll – Safe Harbor Family Church, Flowood, MS
Rochelle Lofstrand – Pilgrimage UCC, Marietta, GA
Bonnie Dollen – Minden UCC, Minden IA
Dennie Kelley – Church of Savior, Knoxville, TN
Linda Brown – Church of Savior, Knoxville, TN
Ceil Sheahan – Church of Savior, Knoxville, TN
Kim Morris – Church of Savior, Knoxville, TN


The commencement service was hosted by the Church of Savior UCC (Knoxville, TN) on Sunday, March 22, 2015. The pastor of the church, Rev. John Gill, graciously offered the gift of dinner and entertainment to everyone including the graduates and their guests who also received warm overnight hospitality after traveling a distance to attend the event. Members of the congregation attending the Sunday worship service extended congratulatory sentiment and support, in response to the sermon preached by our Designated Conference Minister, Rev. June Boutwell, who noted the importance of making educational opportunities available to those who wish to serve the church.  The commencement ceremony was led by PATHWAYS Dean, Dr. Sarah Kim as well as PATHWAYS’ dedicated supporter and facilitator, Minister Regina Drake, who offered a gift of poem to the seven graduates in the title of “The Art of Paying Attention,” that she wrote for the occasion.


The Art of Paying Attention

–for Ceil, Amber, Kim, Dennie, Linda, Rochelle and Bonnie

Genesis 28:16-22

“One remedy for my condition is to pay attention to them when I can, even when they are in my way, just for a moment, I pay attention to the human being instead of the obstacle.”

Barbara Taylor Brown from An Altar in the World.

We have learned to feel
Through a screen devoid
Of feeling,
We have learned to touch
Across miles and across time—
What a wondrous thing
It is to pay attention
To what God
Has placed
Right before
Our very eyes.

So often we have looked
And not seen the ones
Before us or worse,
Been annoyed
By the distraction
They represent—
We are busy people
Our lives screaming
Constantly for actions,
Places we must get,
Tasks to finish,
Deadlines meet.

And here comes
This obstacle
Making us miss the light
When we could be across,
On our way down the road,
An interruption
To our set agendas,
And we missed God too
In the eyes of
A human being.

But we have learned
To hear words on a screen
And not by chance
But to make us better
On our paths–
Words rhythmic and rich
As if delivered by full voices
With hands gesturing,
Punctuating shared thoughts–
Pathos, humor, lives
To give and to receive.

We created space
for God to walk among us
In blue Christmases,
Huge bibles noticed gone,
Dance poured out like prayers
To One who listens well
And bids us do the same
To what the heart will tell.
Lives offered up
In singular sacred moments
Where we encountered God
And built an altar there,
Naming it “Fresh Water”
Flowing justice, love, peace–
We worshipped fully
Trusting God was pleased.

We build an altar there
With what we had in hand
To mark the place,
Knowing God was pleased.

Regina Harris Drake
Pathways Level 1 Graduation      3/22/2015


While this has been a celebratory occasion for the graduates that have concluded this phase of their learning journey, it is yet another beginning, as they move on to the next level of their ministerial training in light of each of their unique callings and locations. Your prayers for each of the graduates and your continued support for the conference’s leadership formation ministry will be greatly appreciated.