From the District Superintendent

Grateful - Blessings each Day

Posted 15 May, 2020 by Rev. Kathleen Overby Webster

I remember a conversation from about 1994 with someone who had decided to retire while still in her 50s. As she shared with me, the driving force behind her decision was the fact that her work was going to change significantly as her office invested in moving from paper to computer-based work. She decided she didn't want to learn how to work using computer technology. She made the decision then to not learn this new way; not for work and not in her personal life. Fast forward to today and that person, now in her mid-80s, is at a distinct disadvantage in navigating our increasingly on-line world, especially in this time of pandemic.

That was in contrast to my mother who in 1998, when she was in her late seventies. learned to use email so she could regularly communicate with my brother the year he spent in Nanjing, China. It was so much more immediate than the rare and widely-spaced phone calls from his 1984 year in Ireland.

I learned to use a mimeograph machine to print the bulletins thirty-seven years ago in preparation for the first Sunday of my first appointment. They looked so pitiful. And they didn't improve very much over the next year. I wasn't a good enough typist (and not adept enough with the correction fluid) to be able to produce error-free stencils. I was so thankful when photocopying became accessible and affordable, even for my four small-membership churches. During my second appointment, when I returned from maternity leave 30 years ago, the electric typewriter in the church office had been replaced by a word processor! I'll admit to being fascinated watching those three lines of type on the small screen shoot out onto the paper. It was a small step a couple of years later to a first desktop computer, then another a few years later, transitioning eventually to laptops, tablets, and smart phones, from paper files to cloud-based records.

It's a little frightening to think how Harold and I would navigate life today if in 1992 we hadn't taken the first step of buying a computer that we did not yet know how to use.

As I prepare to retire one of the questions I am asking myself is "What am I saying 'no' to learning now that I will regret not knowing when I am 80?" I don't want, decades from now, to find myself in a place of isolation because of decisions I've made along the way. And what am I saying 'yes' to learning, being, doing, that will impact my life with blessing in each new day? It is, of course, not just about technology. What do you think I need to pay attention to as I enter this new phase? What do you now wish you had been willing to learn along the way?

I am grateful for what I have learned from you, lay and clergy disciples, as we have worshipped, worked, and led together these last seven years. I have been richly blessed to serve alongside dedicated Lay Leaders (Gary Morris, Brenda Brooks, Nancy Sasser, Judy Job, Shirley Brown, and Denise Pappas) and gifted staff (Cindy Martin, Jan Failes, and Carole Click). It has been my pleasure and privilege to serve as the Roanoke District Superintendent. At the end of June it will be with a full heart that I release my leadership to your new District Superintendent, the Reverend Doug Forrester, confident that "the best is yet to come."


In the hope and joy of Christ,



In the April and May quarantine, grateful for the wonders of technology, I:

  • Worshiped online with many district churches
  • Participated in Wesley VT Spring Board meeting for Annual Ministry Review
  • Participated in April District Committee on Ordained Ministry Meeting
  • Participated in Conference Board of Ordained Ministry Executive Committee Meeting, Common Table Meetings, Common Table Personnel Committee meetings, and an Annual Conference Planning Team Meeting
  • Participated in the Bishop's Steering Team meetings and VITAL Team meeting
  • Participated in Ferrum Board of Trustees Meeting
  • Participated in April and May Cabinet meetings
  • Conducted six Meet Your Pastor Sessions with Staff-Pastor Parish Committees (3 were by Zoom; 3 were in person, with fewer than 10 attendees [including me and the projected pastor], all masked and keeping social distances)
  • Consulted with laity and clergy in person, by phone, and through email

Along with packing, June is slated, thanks to Zoom, to include:

  • Attending June Cabinet meetings
  • Participating in the Bishop's Steering Team and VITAL Team meetings
  • Attending On-Boarding Training
  • Participating in Ferrum College Board of Trustees meeting