caring for all creation
Nurturing care and compassion for God's creation.
My Vegetarian Life
Demanding and taking action to address climate change has been a constant part of my life and ministry. I became a vegetarian at the age of 12 when I met a group of people from Africa through my church. They did not eat as much meat as we do in the United States and had a value for the earth we have not sustained in our culture. I have been a vegetarian ever since and it is my prayer that it is a way I can live out my commitment to caring for God's creation.
The Summer before my Freshman year of college I got to lead youth mission trips in Colorado where we all worked to help the mountain landscapes and streams recover after devastating wildfires.
In 2014 I participated in the Climate March and the World Council of Churches Interfaith signing of a joint statement on climate action and Dinner with world religious leaders and Al Gore at Union Theological Seminary and St. John the Divine in New York City.
Work with Youth
At Desert Palm I have shepherded our youth and young adults at local conferences and events focused on empowering young people to live our their environmental advocacy. I have also supported Pastor Tom Martinez in his outreach to those in our community with a passion for climate justice.
Helping youth restore our earth in Colorado
2014 Climate March in New York City
Practicing self-care and life balance.
Humor-Funny sign listing the grumpiest residents of Gila Bend, Arizona
Retreat-high in the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale, Arizona
Gratitude-a powerful phrase painted on the road in Vermont near a covered bridge I once visited
There are three distinct ways I practice self-care and life balance:
I find humor in many things, and through humor I find hope.
I seek to live amidst nature and to take retreat whenever I can-even just for a little part of my day. This could be listening to my fountain in my backyard, taking a bike ride around the trails near my home, or when I am feeling bold, a hike up the mountains where sky islands reveal new wonders of God's creation and a spiritual sanctuary.
I seek to live a life of gratitude-to be grateful for the people and places the Holy Spirit brings into my life. When I am done reflecting on the gratitude I have for my life and ministry I do my best to share my thanks with those in my midst.
I have known Andrew Ponder Williams since 2016, when he assisted in consultation with our congregation. His preaching, teaching, and comprehension of church leadership are superb, and we were pleased to have his insight. Personally, I enjoyed getting to know him and appreciated his professionalism and communication skills.
The Rev. Elena Larssen, Senior Minister
First Congregational Church of Long Beach, United Church of Christ
(Now the Director of Volunteer Ministries for the National UCC)
Providing hope and healing to a hurting world.
Sharing Hope and Love
At the University of California-Irvine my students and I started a Random Acts of Kindness program to offer signs of acceptance and love and invitation to over 3000 students to improve the mental health and connectedness of the student community.
Speaking Truth to Power
I am engaged in the efforts for equity and healing in my local community. Most recently this included speaking to the Scottsdale City Council in support of a non-discrimination ordinance for LGBTQ people and other vulnerable groups. The City Council unanimously passed the ordinance.
In 2009, I interned in the City Manager's Office of Kansas City, Missouri. My focus was advocacy and policy for youth.
Fund for Theological Education Fellowship
My senior year of college I had a Ministerial Fellowship at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco through the Fund for Theological Education. Here I learned about the facilitation of addiction recovery groups, community activism, programs addressing race and privilege, and celebratory and affirming worship. It was a life-changing experience and a big building block in my theological and spiritual foundation.
A major part of my call is to care for others and to provide pastoral care for my congregation and community. I offer pastoral care and support to all the generations of the congregation I serve, including ASU students, Desert Palm youth and their families, and the full congregation presently through our weekly Joys and Concerns zoom. I am also on call for all the pastoral care needs of our congregation when Pastor Tom is away.
Desert Palm is the first WISE church in the Southwest Conference and this equips me with many resources for my ministry within our church and beyond our congregation (Maintaining a basic understanding of mental health and wellness). I also supported many in the ASU community through mental health needs and self care.
I am especially thankful to have colleagues in ministry who hold space for me when I need support and I for them (Attending to one's own spiritual and pastoral care, including engagement in supervision as appropriate).
Participating in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day March with Glide Church and activists in San Francisco
Worshipping with Glide at Sunday Morning Celebration
Stewarding the resources of the Church.
I am a child of the church. Throughout my life I have witnessed what the Holy Spirit can do with small budgets, limited resources, and limited leadership. As a Pastor I will remain committed to creativity in how we sustain our ministry. Perhaps a series of signs I found once in Downtown Kansas City while attempting to get home have a helpful message for us as we focus on what matters most in ministry: sharing God's unconditional love with all people. I am flexible and open to how to how to live into my call as a church Pastor so that I can ensure I find a way that honors and conserves the resources of a congregation and is sustainable so that future generations will have a UCC faith home.
Memorable series of signs in Downtown Kansas City
Andrew Ponder Williams came to Christ Church by the Sea several years ago. He was a breath of fresh air for us.
First of all, he was young! An amazing treat for our aging population. Andrew immediately began to bring us out of the dark ages of internet use and put us on the road to the future. One of his best plans was the rebranding of our church with new signage on letterhead, on the building and on the internet. We became better known in our community. And our website was revamped in order to better reach out to the world.
It was wonderful to have Andrew preach and see him improve each time he gave the sermon. We were so proud of him.
Andrew was always excited about being a part of Christ Church by the Sea and his excitement was infectious. We loved his can-do attitude, his expertise and his joy at being a part of our congregation. It is so wonderful to know that he is moving closer and closer to being ordained. We know that he will be a marvelous minister and that God will bless his work wherever he is led.
Nancy and Chuck Remley
Christ Church by the Sea, Newport Beach