In this age of information at our fingertips, it seems nothing should ever surprise us. And yet it does. So this is my attempt to help more of you not be surprised. (And those of you who listened all the way to the end of the service last Sunday won’t be surprised at all!)

Two years ago, at the beginning of the pandemic, I was going through a separation and divorce. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to let people know. Everything seemed chaotic and frightening, and I wasn’t at all comfortable sharing much through brand-new-to-me, seemingly impersonal virtual means or social media. To make things further complex, I struggled with how to find a healthy balance between my public role as a pastor and this very private matter.

Eventually, we wrote a letter together that we shared with friends and family and church leadership. In part it said this:

The pandemic has taken so many things from us…including our opportunities for talking to one another face-to-face, and for moving in and out of each other’s lives in the ways that allow for us to keep up with one another’s lives. We have something to share that we had hoped to share with members of our church family in person, in ways and at times that seemed appropriate. But as the pandemic drags on, we realize that we simply won’t have that opportunity, and we needed to find another way….

…We are divorcing. We had hoped that when we shared this news with you it would be in person and that you could see that we are both fine…as we each set out with hope in a new direction. Neither of us is hurt or angry. We will always be family to one another — we share children, grandchildren, and even pets! We intend to remain the best of friends, seeing each other often, doing things together, helping each other out and providing a shoulder or sounding board….

Two years later I am glad to say that all of those things we hoped would define our future as friends and parents are still true.

And now there’s more.

Tomorrow I am getting married! In a very small ceremony in my future sister-in-law’s back yard, Sherri Woodworth and I will be married by my dear colleagues and friends, Troy and William.

And more!

I am changing my name.

I know, I know. We can fill a lengthy position paper with reasons for not doing that. But let me tell you why I am doing that.

For those of you who don’t know, I have been Karen Thompson all of my life. For most of my life my main reason for keeping that name was to share a name in common with my children. That reason has changed as my children have begun to marry and change their names.

Now I see the chance to change my name as a blessed new beginning. Carrying my father’s name has become a burden—and that IS too much and too personal to try to explain in a public post. So what you need to know is that I want to live the rest of my life sharing the name of the person who loves me the most in the world. I will go by Karen Thompson Woodworth legally and in situations in which I want people to be able to find me if they’re looking for Karen Thompson. But here at church I will be Rev. Woodworth.

Easter is a blessed time for all things new! I pray you find many reasons to be delighted, amazed, and renewed during this holy season.

Love and Blessings,

Rev. Karen Thompson (Woodworth)