Pastor Nancy Wright (Lutheran)

pastor_nancy_wrightPastor Nancy Wright (Lutheran) grew up in Colorado, the oldest of four children; her father a geologist and her mother a librarian. Attending the congregational church, Pastor Nancy was youth leader. She and her family enjoyed camping trips in the Colorado Rockies. She attended two years at Carleton College and graduated from Barnard College in Comparative Religion, and then Union Theological Seminary, New York, with a M. Div. Degree in Psychiatry and Religion. In May 1973, she was ordained in the United Church of Christ at The Riverside Church.

From 1973 to 1984 she served as founder and executive director of the Westside Ecumenical Ministry to the Elderly in New York City. This ministry located isolated older persons in welfare hotels, matched them up to “friendly visitors” from churches and synagogues, and also created housing and a social services one-stop center.

Pastor Nancy then received a Masters Degree in Environmental Conservation Education from New York University. She worked for a total of nine years at two ecumenical agencies with a focus on stewardship of Creation: CODEL (Coordination in Development), which served people in poor communities internationally through 38 Christian organizations, including Lutheran World Relief; and, then, Earth Ministry, in Seattle.

Meanwhile, from 1984 to 1993, she served part-time on the staff of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, New York City, as Minister of Spiritual Direction. There, she preached and assisted at liturgy; she also led retreats, a weekly contemplative prayer group, a lecture series, and served as a spiritual director.

In 2002-03, she was trained in intentional interim ministry. From 2004 to 2006 she served as intentional interim pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Brooklyn New York. Trinity has a rich Hauge Norwegian heritage, as well as a strong, thirty-year-old Latino ministry.

She was drawn to Lutheranism, its polity, theology, and liturgy and engaged in the formation process to become rostered in the ELCA. Assigned to the New England synod of the ELCA, the congregation of Ascension Lutheran Church, S. Burlington, Vt., called her as pastor on June 25, 2006.

Pastor Nancy wants the church to help change the world, by bringing the love to Christ to bear directly on people’s lives. She is concerned that the church reach out to those who may be seekers, coming for the first time to the Christian faith. She believes that we can celebrate God’s presence through music, art, nature, community life, and worship. She sees herself as a pastor, a shepherd, and yet also as a seeker with other people for God’s presence and love.

She is especially interested in where God wants the church to bring healing in situations of poverty, injustice, and environmental degradation. Pastor Nancy coauthored (with Fr. Donald Kill) Ecological Healing: A Christian Vision (Orbis, 1993) and has also authored several articles on spirituality and care for creation. Her article “Christianity and Environmental Justice” was published in Crosscurrents (June 2011). In spring, 2012, Pr. Nancy and Ascension were awarded a Lilly Endowment grant for a sabbatical focused on living water (John 4:1-30). Her travels included the Holy Land with a personal meeting with Bishop Mounib Younan, Turkey, Jordan, Scotland (Findhorn and Iona), back to Vermont, and then to Alaska. She received “living waters,” a sense of the grace of God, and an equal sense of alarm over climate change and human overuse of God’s Earth. She returned to Ascension invigorated and in love with her congregation. Pastor Nancy is an environmental liaison to the New England synod, with a special interest in environmental justice.She finds God in Christ richly in her life, in nature, family, friends, art, music, and simply the joys and challenges of being alive