Have you met Rev. Barbara Jean West yet? She’s the new pastor at Spencer Memorial Presbyterian in Lemmon. Check out our interview with her and be sure to welcome her to our presbytery when you get a chance!

1. Tell us a little about where you’re from, your family, any other background you want to share.

I was born in Lemmon, SD and baptized at Spencer Memorial Presbyterian Church. We moved to Bloomington, Minnesota when I was 9 years old and I graduated from Thomas Jefferson Senior High in 1979. I raised 3 sons as a single mother, while working for the phone company for 26 years. In 2007 I left the secular world and moved to Marin County to attend San Francisco Theological Seminary. I received my MDiv in 2011 and MATS in 2012. I moved back to Minnesota in 2013 where I did 4 units of CPE at 4 different locations. In 2014 I started a 1001 New Worshiping Community (Reclamation Ministries) and in early 2018 we received the Investment Grant from Louisville. I was ordained at Peace Presbyterian Church on May 12, 2018 and my first official day at Spencer was June 1.

2. What drew you to explore and accept the call to serve in Lemmon?

Moving away from Lemmon was very difficult for me and I was always searching for a way to move back home. When I realized several decades ago that would not be financially feasible (nor would it have been the best move for my children) I tried to think of ways I could start a business and live here part of the year. When I decided to attend seminary in 2007 people often asked if I would go back to Lemmon and serve as the pastor. I would always respond with an emphatic “No!” I didn’t think I would be a good fit as I am way too liberal politically. After the Alley Cat Reunion over Boss Cowman Rodeo weekend in 2016, I was fairly certain that I wouldn’t even be able to come home for visits anymore since our #1 rule for the weekend was “no political discussions allowed.” That’s where God stepped in and put me into spaces where I came to a compassionate understanding of how/why many people voted for Trump. When I submitted my resume to the PNC here I mentioned that I am a progressive liberal but would not be coming to talk politics. I would be coming to live, preach, and teach the Gospel message, which means I will talk about justice but not secular politics.

3. What are you most excited about as you begin your ministry?

Coming to a church where there is already an active youth group and helping that program to grow. As of now, only the youth group meets on Wednesdays, but I am working toward incorporating similar programs that were successful with Reclamation Ministries. We would like to have an adult Bible study and programming for younger children with a meal for anyone in the community. I am also excited that the congregation would like to try doing new things on Sunday mornings. One of the highlights of my summer will be hosting the Community Vacation Bible School. I am only expected to show up and smile but am looking forward to adding a few surprises.

4. How can we be praying for you?

Please pray that my back continues to heal and that I will maintain my promise to live, teach, and preach the Gospel message (which most certainly will include justice issues) in a way that will help our community grow in love.