As I made my way through the neon-lit lobby, passed the coffee and bagels, I entered the theater, already full of people. I headed down the isle and backstage, to meet Amanda, the pastor of RISE. When I arrived, Amanda was making some adjustments to her hair in the bathroom mirror. My hello startled her and yet it was met with a big smile. Amanda and I had planned for me to follow her around a bit today, for this blog post. This particular Sunday, her husband Jack was gone on a trip to Germany to visit a family friend. Amanda may be the pastor but her mom duties don't stop when she speaks on Sunday's. Just as any other mother would, she got her kids up, dressed and fed before heading off to church. During church, their two children Robert and Abby are used to helping out where they can and are able to be with their dad, Jack or in this instance, other members of the RISE team while their mother prepares backstage for her sermon.
I spent some time with Amanda after church on Sunday and got to know a little bit more about her daily life. We talked about Abby and Robert, her two children, their hobbies and strengths as individuals. We discussed Amanda's husband, Jack and his background in mission work and their lives together. We discussed Amanda's love for "growing things" and how the only plant that made it, in her garden this year was a pumpkin. A pumpkin that the kids and she, collectively were enthusiastic about. That pumpkin was and is a symbol of "hope and resiliency" to Amanda. We discussed Amanda's background and education, she graduated from JMU in 1998 and Duke Divinity in 2003. While working as a speech, language pathologist in Pennsylvania from 1998-2000, Amanda began to hear the "whisper" to become a pastor. Amanda began her journey with RISE back in 2010. RISE just celebrated its 5th anniversary on September, 12! Amanda "never thought of herself as a pastor" or "set out to plan a church" but the church ended up coming to fruition by a team that was devoted to the idea that love wins. Amanda stated there is "something so vital and honest about this movement". RISE launched in the basement of the Blue Nile restaurant and has since moved to Court Square Theater. Amanda's time as pastor has not been without trials. Just last year, Amanda had an experience in which she describes it as "I went through a desert period, where I doubted everything". Amanda has since been on a healing path and states that "God and I are dancing again". Well Amanda, we are dancing with you. Out of everything I learned in my talks with Amanda, I learned that she is REAL. She walks in faith and lives the best life she can, sometimes with or without a doubt, just as we all do.
This is a day in the life of a pastor.
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