Pastor’s Paragraph for April 18, 2021

Pastor's Paragraph

APRIL 18, 2021


Dear church, 

We have just begun a sermon series called Strangers Become Family, which has led me to feel like I’ve had a beautifully unusual life, having had many other extra grandparents and siblings from before my birth through today with the church families that have surrounded me with love and care—and that includes you, Camp Hill UMC! I am so grateful to serve you. I believe we are creating a community where that truth of strangers becoming family becomes less unusual and more beautiful and expected daily!

I think of this especially as I prepare for another surgery on April 21st. Some of you may recall that I’ve had two surgeries since arriving at Camp Hill UMC about five years ago, so it’s been a journey of mind, body, and soul these years. But how grateful I am that in those moments when your typically zippy Community Pastor is a little slower to get back up on her feet, you have been such a gift in my life, recognizing graciously that beyond the role of a pastor, I am also human. Acknowledging with love our shared humanity, you have cared for me—and for so many others in the community who are experiencing seasons of body and soul recovery so that we can all rise again, stronger than ever.

Know that I will be out of commission for about ten days, but you have never been—nor will you ever be—out of my heart and prayers. You may know that there is very little on your agenda when you’re recovering from abdominal surgery, in fact, other than prayer.

So, know that I will be praying that you also are receiving the particular forms of care you need in the season of life in which you find yourself. And specifically, I want to encourage you to sign up for Soul Care with our professional counseling intern, Nick Ortiz.

I’ve been told several times that it’s not necessary for me to be so transparent about what’s happening in my life. Still, I must say, I feel as though it’s a privilege for me to play a small part in what I hope is destigmatizing the vulnerability of our bodies and spirits. As one of the children in our congregation several years ago said so profoundly, “If I can’t be my true self at church, where can I be?”

I hope that when we are hurting—and when we are celebrating—we will continue to be a community that shares these realities to care for one another without worrying that we will be ostracized or ignored. That’s what families are for. Family members are the people you call on when you feel like you can’t call on anyone else.

When I was growing into a young adult, my mother used to tell me regularly that if ever I needed help, wherever I was in the world, I should find the closest United Methodist Church, knock on the door, and they would help me. There has never been a season in my life where I have not found that to be true. I pray that, in the days to come, we will continue together to create a community where that is true for thousands of strangers yet to become family.  

Grace, peace, and gratitude to you,


Rev. Anna Layman Knox
Community Pastor