Preferred Pronouns: She/her/hers
Tell us your story.
I’m proud to say that I’m a Colorado native, born in Englewood and raised in Littleton. I (foolishly) left Colorado to go to college in Kansas City, and then eventually I ended up in Arizona doing graduate work that (thankfully) led me back to Colorado to teach at CU.
I’m what’s known in churchy-language as a PK or “preacher’s kid.” My father is a retired minister, and so I grew up in a faith community that I would describe as fundamental but compassionate and filled with people committed to following God with their whole hearts. This upbringing resulted in both a blessing and a hindrance to my faith. The blessing: I was loved and parented by lots of Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, and others who took seriously the call to “love God, love others, and love self.” The hindrance: it took me a couple of decades of spiritual, emotional, and intellectual evolution to see that God is much bigger, more expansive, more creative, more loving, and more mysterious than the image of God that I was taught. That evolution was accelerated in my 20s when I met this intriguing bass player dude named Bryan who helped me see that faith can and should be creative and that we should be willing to explore any avenue that helps us pursue goodness, beauty, and truth.
Hmmmm, so “What do you want the rest of Left Hand to know about you?” Well…I guess I would answer with three words: chocolate, books, hiking. Also, when I was six years old, I bowled an entire game without hitting a single pin–truly, an accomplishment.
Tell us about your role on the Left Hand Leadership Council (LC).
I’m currently co-chairing the Left Hand Leadership Council, and I’m so honored to serve in that role. The conversations are not always easy, and the last three weeks of responding to Jen’s resignation have been painful but also a reminder that there are so many wonderful people at Left Hand who care deeply about the community and about each other.
The work of collaborating with the other LC members (Christy Estoll, Jody Mason, Patty Carmichael, and Co-Chair Jon Gettings, pastor at Denver Community Church) and with John, Kristie, Heatherlyn, and Paula is dear to my heart because it is a way to be a part of–to use the Apostle Paul’s metaphor–the “body of Christ.”
I’ve served as co-chair since Left Hand began–like most volunteer roles in a church, I’ve received way more than I’ve given as we’ve tried to foster a culture where we really live out our ethos…”there’s room for us all here”!
Can you give us an LC 101?
Typically, the LC meets once a month. In the last three weeks, we’ve met much more frequently and we plan to meet every other week for the next few months as we plan for the future.
Currently, there are five members of the LC (Christy Estoll, Jody Mason, Patty Carmichael, and Co-Chair Jon Gettings, pastor at Denver Community Church), and Kristie and John often participate in LC meetings as well.
Our By-Laws state that the LC may have anywhere from five to 11 people and that, initially, members are appointed to the LC in consultation with the Pastors. We plan to change from a Leadership Council to an Elder Board (we’ve talked about embracing the broad sense of the word “elder”–anyone who can bring wisdom to helping to guide the church) and to initiate a nomination/election process where church members can nominate and elect potential elders. We had planned to make that switch this Spring, but were not able to finalize those plans before Jen resigned. We still plan to make that switch to an elected Elder Board so that everyone has the opportunity to participate in church leadership, but we don’t yet have a new timeline for when that will happen.
I think it would be great for more people to be involved in the conversations around helping Left Hand. We definitely plan to have some public meetings soon to invite everyone to contribute their ideas for how we move forward and to share our hearts about the specific ways we live out our ethos in our church community and in our broader communities in Boulder Valley and beyond.
What role does your faith play in your life during difficult times?
During difficult times, my faith doesn’t necessarily answer all the questions, calm my worries or help me see the “meaning of it all.” Instead, I think this quote from James Finley, one of the teachers at the Center for Contemplation and Action, sums it up: “Love [or Faith] protects us from nothing, even as it unexplainably sustains us in all things.”
What do your days look like under the stay at home orders?
During this pandemic, we’ve rotated who does the cooking for dinner…and I’m proud (and soooooo happy) to say that Bryan, Sam, and Joel are all better cooks than I am.
How are you staying connected to your loved ones and community?
What else? Zoom! I’ve loved the times I’ve been able to check in with our Left Hand Branch, and the book discussions about Brene Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness, have been challenging, fun, and sustaining. But I’ve also written some cards to far-away friends, and we sent some Easter Peeps to dear friends in Arizona and Washington. What better way to say “We love you” than with marshmallow-y, gooey, chick-shaped goodness?
What would you recommend to others in our community who want to help?
Right now, I think the most important way we help each other is just to stay connected–through our Branches, through our friendships, through Bible studies and book discussions. I also think we can support our Pastors and staff with encouragement. Kristie, John, Heatherlyn, and Paula each bring such amazing gifts to LH–something as simple as a quick email or note can really brighten their day!
Once we are able to meet in person (I can’t wait to be in the same room together again–even if it means physical distancing!), there will be more tasks we can all help with–setting up/cleaning up, helping with Communion–but most importantly, just continuing to care for each other and love each other well.
Lonni’s profile is part of an on-going blog series aimed to help Left Hand members get to know each other better. Over the next few weeks we will be profiling the volunteer members of our Leadership Council.