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No Place Like Home

A Message from Karen Thistlethwaite, Transitional Executive Partner for Operations and Communications

“There’s no place like home.”

Karen ThisthlethwaiteIn the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ Dorothy clicks her ruby red slippers three times and says, “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home,” and then in a matter of seconds, she is home. Transported back to a place of love of support, she is reunited with Auntie Em and Uncle Henry, and the three men who work on the family farm. Everything is the same, and yet everything is different. And after traveling along the yellow brick road in search of a brain, a heart, courage, and a broomstick, not to mention inadvertently killing two “wicked” witches, Dorothy returns home a different person as well.

This tale of journeying and discovery, reconnecting and facing life with a new perspective, reminds me of my last 18 months in the wonderful land of the United Church of Christ and then being called back “home” to serve as the Transitional Executive Partner for Operations and Communications, here in the Presbytery of San Francisco. During COVID, my call took an unexpected turn as I learned a whole new set of theology, polity, and history, in a denomination that is similar yet distinctly different from our own. While doing the work to gain dual standing, I learned about the importance of covenantal relationships and to “never put a period where God has placed a comma.” I learned about the power of “one voice, one vote” and the beauty and complexity of a congregational approach to decision-making.

Like Dorothy, while on this journey, I never forgot about my Presbyterian roots, and now that I have returned, I bring with me all the relationships I made and lessons I have learned along the way. As I return and see familiar faces and spaces, I am aware that while things might seem the same, just as I have grown, that these faces and spaces that I love have blossomed as well.

Many of you might have also experienced this phenomenon, after reconnecting with loved ones and systems at various points in COVID, or throughout the years during the holiday season.

So, to those of you who already know me, I say “hello,” and to those of you who don’t know me, I say, “Hello.” I can’t wait to get to know you better, work with you, learn from you, and serve you, as part of this holy family we call the Presbytery of San Francisco.

With much love,

Fun Fact: Karen performed as a Lullaby League Munchkin (93) and Wicked Witch of the West (96) in local productions of the ‘Wizard of Oz.’

Photo: Karen enjoying all the “sweetness of life” after seeing ‘The Book of Mormon’. Click on the link to listen to the opening number “Hello!”