Rev. Joanna Samuelson
The Rev. Joanna Samuelson is honored to come alongside the staff of First Church during this transitional time and provide pastoral leadership and support in the role of Designated Minister. She is inspired by First Church’s commitment to social justice, and also touched by the congregation’s extravagant welcome to all as well as its loving care and support of one another. Since she has been here, she has experienced what author Anne Lamott describes: I think Jesus is divine love manifest on Earth as it comes through the community of Christians.
Born and raised in the United Church of Christ (UCC), she comes from a long line of pastors although her path to authorized ministry was a circuitous one while she and her spouse were raising their family. They have five children: Martin, Ingrid, Emmett, and twins Malcolm and Henry, who are now in high school. In the thirty-two years since she and her spouse Shane have been married, they have lived in five states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, Massachusetts and Ohio!
Rev. Samuelson completed her undergraduate work at the University of Pittsburgh and then earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan, which prepared her well for her first career as a clinical social worker in both community mental health and medical settings. Several years later, she graduated from The Spirituality Network as a certified spiritual director and, since then, she has had a small spiritual direction practice.
When her youngest two children enrolled in preschool, she enrolled at Trinity Lutheran Seminary (Bexley) and graduated with a Master of Divinity in 2018. Since then, she has worked as a chaplain in both hospice and hospital settings. She has also served the church as the Minister of Congregational Life at North Congregational UCC (Columbus) and as an Intentional Interim Minister at Trinity UCC (Baltimore, OH). During the summers of 2021 and 2022, she was delighted to provide ministerial support while Rev. Ahrens and Mr. Mark Williams were on sabbatical leave.
She acknowledges that moving through times of transition can be challenging in any setting. However, Rev. Samuelson feels the deep faith, ongoing commitment, and active engagement of the First Church congregation is especially hope-filled and inspiring at a time like this. She feels it is a gift to be in covenant with all the congregation as they prayerfully discern and rely on God’s grace to guide them along this next leg of the journey – together!
For surely, I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Jeremiah 29:11
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