Becky Goodwin: A sweet chapter in the book of life | TheUnion.com
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Becky Goodwin: A sweet chapter in the book of life

Other Voices
Becky Goodwin

My life story is composed of many happy chapters, and some sad ones. There are chapters of career changes, love’s ups and downs, raising kids, political activism, art, faith, loss, sorrow and renewal.

The last four years, among you in Nevada County, have been a very happy chapter in my book.

I literally jumped for joy that day in February 2016, when I was offered the position of pastor at Grass Valley United Methodist Church. I knew I would love it here, and that I had a lot to offer, too!

I knew the beauty of the foothills, the charming small towns, and the altruistic people. I knew I would love the work, for the congregation of Grass Valley United Methodist Church has a reputation for local and global generosity.

God be with you, Nevada County, and may humankind everywhere unite for peace and justice.

It was the chance of a lifetime, and like icing on a cake, I was about to be married, too! After eight years widowed, I was in love, engaged to Paul, an Episcopal priest, and Grass Valley would be the place to start our married life!

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I moved into the historic parsonage on July 1, 2016, and the adventure began. The congregation amazed me! They live a heart-warmed spirituality in the distinctive Methodist way, linking piety to both personal renewal and social justice.

They express this spirituality in two extraordinary Sunday services, one contemplative and the other traditional. I have never seen such high quality church music and arts for all ages in any church of this modest size.

Worship fuels commitment to global mission and local nonprofits: Habitat for Humanity, Interfaith Food Ministry, Hospitality House, and Music in the Mountains, to name a few! And besides, many other organizations small and large benefit from the dedication and donations of Grass Valley United Methodists. The way they look at it is this: They cannot personally do all the good deeds that need to be done, so why not join community efforts?

Every day of my job has been a mission of joy and hope. Even in the outbreak of a global pandemic, the people of this church have been faithful in love for neighbors near and far. They have modified every ministry for online service and paper mailings and phone calls, doing the best they can right now. They take to heart the words of our founder John Wesley, who promoted love in action like this:

“Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.”

But now this chapter in Nevada County will close. I am ready for the chapter “Retirement.” I will move to Rancho Cordova, where I have a house and extended family. I will write, paint, think and pray to my heart’s content. Paul will retire in another year. Our dreams are simple: tend home and family, do art, and make road trips, camping and seeing the country.

You might well ask, why don’t we stay in wonderful Nevada County and do all of that? How can we leave such a lovely place and love-filled people?

We leave because love prevails everywhere. One can make a meaningful life anywhere. The invitations of God to respond to the needs of the human condition are in every moment and in every place.

You will be with me in beautiful memories: the festivals, street fairs, concerts, restaurants, shops, peace marches, and “Love Walks,” my season on The Union’s editorial board, and the wonderful organizations with which I was affiliated, like the Indivisible Women, and the Nevada County Business and Professional Women.

You will be with me as I tend my creativity. While I was here, I did icon-painting with my husband and some of you. I found a renewal path for my writer self by taking a 12-week class with some of you in “The Artist’s Way.”

You will be with me in my faith! The ecumenical and interfaith organizations and activities here are the best I have ever encountered! I have never met any group like “Interfaith Nevada County!” My own faith has been strengthened by knowing people of other faiths.

You will be peace that glows in my heart, my hopes, and my prayers.

God be with you, Nevada County, and may humankind everywhere unite for peace and justice.

Rev. Becky Goodwin is pastor at Grass Valley United Methodist Church.


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