Meet Pastor Laurie SponaugleCompassionate, hopeful and creative are three words that Laurie would like others to think of when they describe her.
She learned about compassion as a child growing up in the small Midwest town of Carol Stream, Illinois, which she loved. She had a special fondness for family fondue and game night by the fireplace and sledding down piles of snow at the end of the driveway. Her Mother, Pat, was a nurse, and her father, Bob, was in human resources. Out of their professional lives, both taught Laurie different lessons about compassion. As a child she was blessed with a friend and companion in her sister, Cindy, who is also a pastor now serving two UCC churches in Latrobe, PA.
In addition to lessons learned at home, Laurie learned about compassion from the church which nurtured and encouraged her in her faith and through her studies at San Francisco Theological Seminary. While a seminary student Laurie was blessed with the opportunity to take classes at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) with students from nine other seminaries. Her experiences there helped her to value the gift of diverse thoughts, as well as ecumenical and interfaith relationships.
Laurie says that her understanding of compassion has also been impacted by her beautiful and complicated children. She loves being mom to Andrew, a college freshman, and Josh, a high school junior, and has been surprised by the many life lessons she has learned over the years. She also learned invaluable lessons about compassion and hope during the challenging times in her life.
Even though compassion comes first in her list of words, Laurie would be quick to to tell you that hopeful is equally important. Her hope is born out of her faith and trust in God. Her favorite story in Scripture is the Easter story as told in John's Gospel. Laurie also loves resurrection and redemption stories because both are brimming with hope. She believes hope is one of the great gifts a church can have, as she believes it is essential for the church as it faithfully follows God into the future.
While compassionate and hopeful have been easy words for Laurie to claim, she will admit that creativity has been a bit more challenging. In the church where Laurie grew up, although she found the community and the fellowship life-giving, she struggled some with the formality of worship. As her creativity developed in college, she wondered how God might use her gifts and love for creativity. With faith and trust she entered Seminary and was delighted to discover that many churches were incorporating the arts in worship. Laurie found an outlet for creativity in the use of drama and puppets in worship and with her special time with the children. She has written liturgy, children's stories for Christmas Eve and designed special worship services. Laurie delights in finding new ways to include the creative gifts and talents of church members of all ages in worship and ministry!