Welcome Letter: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Hello, Neighbor!

It may be a bit soon to be calling you that, Neighbor, because I most likely haven’t met you yet. It is with great excitement (and a little nervousness) that my family and I are packing our belongings in preparation of moving to your neighborhood. It is with equal excitement (and perhaps a bit more nervousness!) that I prepare to step into the humble role of Pastor at Hurdtown and Lake Hopatcong United Methodist Churches. I imagine that you may also be feeling excited and nervous- after all, you’ve never met me either! It’s perfectly normal to have mixed feelings in the midst of a big change- and getting a new pastor is definitely a big change. When my daughters get nervous about something new we often sing a little song that we learned from the children’s television show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood that goes like this: When something is new, holding a hand can help you.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is a spin off of the classic children’s television show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Fred Rogers, or “Mr. Rogers” was a Presbyterian minister who used public television to engage children of all ages and to teach them valuable lessons about emotions, how things work, and living in community with one another. The theme song, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, is the title of a recent documentary that is being shown in theatres now, and is also the inspiration behind our worship series for the month of July as you and I get to know one another. Each week we will look at a key element, character, or lesson from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.

July 1st: Loving Ourselves & Loving Others

July 8th: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

July 15th: Look for the Helpers

July 22nd: In Some Ways We Are Different

July 29th: The Neighborhood of Make Believe

Before we meet one another face to face let me tell you a few things about me that may answer some questions you have. First, if you ask where I’m from I may stare at you blankly for a second or two before answering. You see, I’ve moved six times in the last ten years and have called many different neighborhoods Home. I will most likely tell you Towson, Maryland, as that is where I was born, raised, and my family still resides (I have a mother, father, three sisters, a brother in law, a soon to be brother in law, and two nephews. Family gatherings are really loud!). You will probably meet most of my family over the next few months, as they love to come visit us here in New Jersey. You will also meet my husband Evan, who is also a pastor (so you probably won’t see him on Sunday mornings).

Outside of Sunday morning when I usually wear a robe you will most likely see me in a clergy collar, a sweater (if I wasn’t a pastor I’d probably be a librarian), or an apron. Sometimes I might be in all three at once! I’ve also been known to wear some pretty wild leggings from time to time- life’s too short to wear boring clothes!

Finally, I’m often asked what I would like to be called. The two names most frequently used are Pastor Amanda and Mama. I have four year old twin daughters named Auden and Amelia who you will see quite a lot. Together we are Triple A, ready to save the day! I consider both roles, pastor and mama, to be my calling in life, and for me they go hand in hand. I would not be the mother I am without my experience as a pastor. Likewise, I would not be the pastor that I am today if I were not mother. If you would like to follow along on our daily adventures or sneak a peek at old sermons or other pieces I’ve written you can check out our blog, MamaPastor

Mr. Rogers’ had a favorite quote that he carried with him that read, “Frankly, there isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.” I am so looking forward to hearing your stories and getting to know you over these next weeks and months! So let’s make the most of this beautiful day, Since we’re together, we might as well say, Would you be mine? Could you be mine?

Won’t you be my neighbor?

                                                                          Grace and Peace,
                                                                                  Pastor Amanda


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