At age 41, the Rev.
Little did she know how much she would be tested in a short time as disease, fire, flooding and post-Biblical technology challenges took their toll.
She and members of the predominantly White, aging congregation of the
She and her husband, Jeremy, had bought the house, built in 1898, a decade earlier and were slowly restoring it. Services became a family affair. Music was provided by Jeremy on the guitar and by Kim's sister, while the couple's three kids, ages 15, 13 and 7, helped with readings.
As livestreamed services switched from one room to another, congregants became familiar with their pastor's living room sofa, dining room decor and the books in her office.
She received a crash course in technology from other church leaders and members. She learned to livestream through Zoom to YouTube so the service could be live and listeners could participate through the chat feature.
Many of the church members, at least 30 are over age 90, are not technologically savvy, so elders found old computers to deliver to them and taught them the basics of getting emails and watching YouTube.
For six months, Sunday services were officiated from home via her Mac laptop. As the pandemic persisted, church elders invested
Throughout these changes, church member
"I did my best to make home calls and home visitations in front yards, and my elders made a lot of phone calls," she said. "I was so pleased that, when we shut down, our people rallied ... the congregation just prayed, and gave and showed up."
Services resumed in church on
"Had it happened two weeks prior, my kids would have been home distance learning, but they just went back to school," she says. Her husband was at home and able to get out with their two dogs, but little else.
Workers were repairing the roof when a spark ignited the attic insulation and fire quickly spread inside the walls. Between the flames, smoke and water damage, the interior was gutted and the house declared a total loss.
The family of five temporarily took refuge in a downtown
"It's our home and our beloved home but ... we are counting our blessings everyone is alive,"
She and Jeremy returned late last week to sift through the muck for any salvageable belongings. They rescued two coveted baby blankets, a wedding album, a damaged family painting and two special books that Elliot, 17, and Amos, 15, received for their 13th birthdays. The handmade coming-of-age books were full of art, notes, photos and words of wisdom from family and friends.
The church community has gathered around, offering help. This, too, is something
She marvels that among the quickest to invite them to stay in their homes were Chaldean families (Christians from
"When our house was on fire, all the neighbors we knew were pitching in," says the reverend. "But people we didn't know, strangers, were pitching in, too. I've been very humbled by this experience."
It will take time to sort through the insurance coverage, but she vows to rebuild the 1898 house.
She says this recent experience actually has strengthened her faith because it brought surprising gifts of love, generosity and goodness, especially after a year of political division and unsettling news.
"I have cried, and I have been very angry at different points, but there is a deeper grounding, an inner peace and okayness that resides within," she says.
This story originally appeared in
(c)2021 The San Diego Union-Tribune
Visit The San Diego Union-Tribune at www.sandiegouniontribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.