With the recommendation of the Bridge Search Committee, the UCUCC Church Council has approved a call to Rev. Loren McGrail to serve as our Bridge Minister of Care and Outreach in 2022. Her official start date is January 10, and she’ll be relocating to Seattle (from New York State) in January.
She was ordained to a call as a hospital chaplain. In addition to being a Jonathan Edwards scholar, she graduated from Andover Newton Theological School with two certificates from the Boston Theological Center, in World Mission and Faith, and in Health and Spirituality. Her call is both pastoral and prophetic. She was a mission co-worker with Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and Christian Disciples of Christ for five years serving in Israel/Palestine with the YWCA of Palestine and as an ecumenical associate with the Church of Scotland at St. Andrews.
Rev. McGrail initially felt called to palliative and hospice care and clinical pastoral education (CPE). Her call expanded and her passion today includes working for justice and peace. Pastor Loren is currently serving as an interim pastor in upstate NY (since 2019) and led the church there as a solo pastor through Covid-times.
Ed Coleman, Bridge Minister Search Committee chair, introduced Rev. McGrail to the Council and shared that she was the recommendation of the committee.
Pastor Loren shares the following thoughts: “My ministry path has been a labyrinth walk full of twists and turns rather than a straight or narrow line. September 11, 2001 was my first day of seminary. I had a clear call: get ordained and become a professional chaplain so I could be a healing presence. That was the deal, but September 11 changed everything for everyone, including me. I realized that my call to be a healer was too narrow. The repair and mending of the world needed more from me; it needed my activist and later, prophetic, and creative self.”
During her discussions with Church Council members, Rev. McGrail was asked why she was interested in becoming the bridge minister here. “Your church has many gifts to offer,” she said. “It is a larger church, working in partnership, and it is exciting to join this partnership. I have been wanting to find a church that is clearly progressive, and I have a soulful need to be working with other clergy.”
Reflecting on her aspirations for her time with us, she said, “I believe I may have a role in helping the congregation to process grief and loss. The challenges of Covid have been difficult. Accustomed to meaningful in-person worship at the center of social life, we have been forced to reckon with the question of, ‘If we can’t gather in person, who are we then? What holds us together?’ These are questions we will continue to ponder together.”
If you would like to learn more about Pastor Loren before her arrival, this YouTube interview provides additional information and context.
Members of the Bridge Search Committee included Terry Moore, Margaret Stine, Carol Bryant, Christina Purdy, Joyce Jackson and Ed Coleman (chair).