OUR PASTOR & LEADERS
Who is She?
Pastor Connie Thomson is the pastor at River of Grace, and she's pretty excited about the new beginning going on for all of us. She spent almost all of the first 18 years of her life in Fairfax and Annandale, and when she graduated from Oakton High School in 1985 she headed for college in Columbus, Ohio. She graduated from Capital University in 1989 and went straight to seminary at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. She graduated in 1993 with a Masters in Divinity, and went on to serve two congregations consecutively in Madison, Wisconsin before she accepted a call to start a brand new congregation in a suburb of Indianapolis, New Joy Lutheran Church, in 1999. In March of 2012 she accepted the call to help the people of what was formerly known as Christus Victor Lutheran Church forge a new identity and ministry in the Manassas area, and with lots of prayer and conversations with folks, she named our church River of Grace. A river is always changing, she says, and at the same time, God's grace is always abundant. It shapes and changes our lives, all for the beauty of the world around us.
Yeah. But who IS She?
Pastor Connie is a self-proclaimed "Jesus Freak," and she means that in the fun, light-hearted and beautiful sense of the word. She really loves the life and the lessons God taught us through the person of Jesus. She has a way of bringing life and faith together, and of inviting other people to do a lot of that, too. She's not very good at small talk, and people have been known to get out of their comfort zones when she's around; but she does it all, she says, because she loves God and she loves people, and she believes that we're all better off when we recognize that God is up to something holy and wonderful in each person's life. She's also got a pretty goofy sense of humor, and she's not afraid to use it. The best way to get to know her is to stop by the church some day or come and worship with us on Sundays. She'll notice that you're there, and she'll be glad about it.
Pastor Connie recently adopted twin girls and she is delighted to make a family with them. Living nearby are her parents, her only brother and a couple of nieces and her very first great-niece. They live in Gainesville and Clifton, so moving back to this part of the world was really a "coming home" for her. She's become reaquainted with lots of old friends and looks forward to what the future brings back home in northern Virginia.
When She's Not Working
When Pastor Connie isn't working, she's playing and learning with her daughters, volunteering with local animal shelters, shelters, painting pictures, reading books, and discovering what it means to take care of a lawn and landscaping around her house. She likes to get together with friends and family and hear and tell stories. She's a big music fan, and some of her current favorites are the Indigo Girls, Mumford and Sons, Train, Nanci Griffith, Adele. The list of favorite artists doesn't seem to end. And as far as reading, some recent favorites have included Love Wins by Rob Bell, Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado, and a collection of sermons by Paul Tillich called "You Are Accepted." She reads The Christian Century, National Geographic, and the Oprah Magazine, and she has fun doing it.
So, Why Ministry?
Pastor Connie says she learned when she was a teenager that Church is a "Grace Place." There, she felt accepted, loved, and more fully alive than she did anywhere else. In college she had what she calls a "falling out" with God, but God won, she laughs. Ask her about it sometime.
She loves ministry because, she says, all of us have a 'hole' inside our hearts and lives. The job of the Church isn't to fill that hole up, but to help people find peace with it. Life is hard sometimes, but a community of faith can help us find purpose, meaning, and joy in normal every day stuff like raising kids, doing laundry, visiting a museum, and helping out a neighbor. Most of all, Pastor Connie feels very lucky and blessed to get to lead people in worship, in prayer, and in learning new things about themselves and the God who loves them. She'll be happy to tell you about that, too!
If you're still reading, Pastor Connie and all the people of River of Grace look forward to getting to know you. Give us a call at 703-680-1058, drop us a note, and please join us for worship on Sunday mornings at 10:30 at 15012 Dumfries Road in Manassas. We're just south of Minnieville Rd. on the west side of Rt. 234 (Dumfries Road), and there will be lots of room for you. You're always welcome!