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Missouri Pastors Share Stories


If you want to know Jennifer Moxley, you need to get to know Walter. He’s clearly the love of her life, even if she laughs every time he runs head-first into a wall at full speed. 
Walter is Moxley’s white and gray floppy-eared rabbit. She has posted more than 140 pictures of him on Facebook, usually accompanied by a pun.
It makes sense that Moxley, associate pastor at First UMC in Sikeston, is appointed where she is, because it’s known at the fun church – When she had a chance to speak to her fellow pastors and church leaders at Converge, she led with Walter, then went to the Bible with Psalm 37: 4 

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Moxley said she has come to learn to focus not on the second part of the verse but the first. 
“Maybe this is not about getting desires but in about finding delight in the Lord,” she said. She told of Dorothy Day, and her incredible ministry she started as a founder of The Catholic Worker movement. Day came to faith as an adult, and tells her story in the book The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day. 
Rev. Mark Sheets of Good Shepherd UMC followed Moxley and stayed with the delight theme. He said one set of words in church leadership that drives him nuts is: I have to. “It should be: I get to,” he said. “Not I have to go to the hospital, write a sermon, teach a bible study. We get to do those things.”
Sheets said he gets to teach the fifth week of a Financial Peace University class. The nine couples in the class collectively had $539,000 in debt on 96 credit cards. The previous week they had cut up 17 credit cards in class. One family had 27. 
“I’ve never had more fun talking about something more scary than personal finance,” Sheets said. “My goal is that when people meet us, it is generally a good time. It is my prayer that when people talk about our denomination, fun is an adjective that they use someday.” 
He closed with the prayer: “All mighty God, help us remember that having fun and having faith doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive.”
Rev. Charity Goodwin, associate pastor at Missouri UMC, followed Sheets, and started by asking three questions:
  • Are you showing up?
  • Are you being seen?
  • Are you living brave?
She said a few years ago, her answers would have been no. She had suffered some emotional trauma and was living scared. She referred to teaching by nationally known researcher and speaker Brene Brown, relating to showing up, being seen and living brave. 
“Where is your arena? Do you have a ministry arena? Where is the place you would like to be seen, show up?” she said. 
She shared about the emotions she went through when her son Gabriel was diagnosed with autism and the challenges of serving in a cross-racial appointment that is in a different cultural context than where she was formed. She has learned the importance of staying connected to her values and understanding her arena. 
"What are the things you give yourself permission to do and not do?” Goodwin said. “I don’t need anybody’s permission to do these things. I use my voice because it matters. Find a place where you can put your values, and you see them every day. Trust not just rational mind you have but also the emotional mind.”
Goodwin hosts workshops around this topic called The Daring Way. For more information email her at