Welcoming the new: Pastor Cathy Love joins Grass Valley United Methodist Church
Special to The Union
Cathy Love didn’t always want to be a pastor.
In fact, for most of her life she avoided religion completely — which makes her journey to becoming the newest pastor at the Grass Valley United Methodist Church all the more interesting.
As a child, Cathy was surrounded by religion, but found the constant reminders of God’s negativity not to her liking. At first chance, she rid herself of her religious lifestyle completely.
“I stayed gone for a really long time because it was never welcoming to me, all the judgement and guilt-based actions,” she said.
Cathy went on to pursue work in education, teaching in the Elk Grove School District, with a love for creative writing in her free time. In fact, it was that poetry passion of hers that drew her back to the church after 30 years away, taking the form of a creative writing workshop held in a Methodist church in Oregon. While there, Cathy volunteered in the kitchens and met the husband-wife manager duo, who became close friends of hers after many years of returning to the workshop.
It was because of that close friendship that, when back in Sacramento one year, Cathy tentatively went to visit her local Methodist church.
“I walked into that church four-and-a-half years ago,” she said. “They were playing a James Taylor song and by the end of that first Sunday worship service I didn’t hear all the ways I was going to hell today — no, they were all talking about love. So I cautiously came back the next week and when I walked in the door they knew my name. It hit like home — the welcome, the warmth, the open mindedness.”
And so began one of the greatest changes of Cathy’s life.
She quickly started taking classes to be able to work at the church — and after presenting sermons during one of her preaching courses her professor simply said, “You need to go out and serve churches.”
At first, she laughed at the idea. Barely a few months later, though, she was enrolled in seminary.
A year has passed and Cathy Love is now a registered pastor at 54 years old.
“I look back over those decades of hating religion, and then of entering the church again and think that God has a great sense of humor,” she said with a laugh. “All of the things that have led me here, the events from my past, are just Him giving me little hints.”
Filled with positivity and excitement, Cathy has embraced her role as the newest addition to the Grass Valley United Methodist Church after being assigned there in July. While the transition hasn’t been easy due to pandemic-related complications, she’s felt more than welcome in this community.
“The people here have been warm, friendly, and absolutely fantastic,” she said. “Though I still haven’t met most face-to-face.”
Since July, Cathy has been leading worships and midweek lunch drop-ins on Zoom for members to attend. These virtual gatherings have been more than a success for most, but Cathy can’t help but consider those more severely impacted by the current pandemic — like homebound seniors and people who can’t connect as well to the digital world.
Filled with a desire to help as much as she can, Cathy has set in motion several plans to make the most out of the current COVID-19 situation. To reach those without as much of a connection to the outside world, she’s put in a grant to the United Methodist Women for funding to send out copies of sermons, prayers and daily devotionals by mail. She’s been focused on restarting the feeding ministries and raising as many donations as she can for the Interfaith Food Ministry, and is dedicated to getting small, virtual groups restarted and increasing the connection between her and her congregation. And to top it all off, Cathy is working to start a “dial a sermon” for all those without access to Zoom.
“Trying to figure things out right now means you can innovate,” Cathy said. “New is scary, but I have the double benefit that everything is new with me — so I can try new things. But I do have to keep in mind that things that are comfortable and new to me sometimes aren’t for the people in our congregations, so I’m trying to ease into it.”
Mina Ricci is a freelance writer who contributes to The Union.
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