Anyone can post anything nowadays. The reader becomes the judge of whether something is insightful or noteworthy. Therefore, I believe it's incredibly important for the reader to know the author. Most of my readers are my friends, but along the way more and more people are reading my ruminations and cultural reflections without knowing who I am and where I’m coming from. So, here's a quick background, to help you know me more. Feel free to comment on one of my posts and tell us more about you! I would love for there to be more interplay on this blog!
As I write this, I'm currently sipping my morning coffee with an delicious muffin filled with tons of seeds and lots of fiber. So, grab your own hot drink of choice and tasty snack and enjoy. My name is Kati Collins. It's nice to meet you!
Most of my roots come from West Virginia, but we moved around a lot throughout my childhood. I grew up mostly in Oklahoma and completely feel at home now in Manhattan, KS. I'm a born and bred Presbyterian and you could say that my youth ministry training started before I was born--My mom was literally leading youth retreats while I was in the womb. Once we were big enough to steal away from the babysitters, my parents started letting me and my sister stick around in the background. I learned songs like "Thy Word" and "Sing Alleluia to the Lord" in the same way some kids learned "The Farmer in the Dell" and "Ring around the Rosie". I loved to sing and watch the youth play fun games.
Later as I grew up and joined the youth group myself, my mom started consulting me and my sister about what we should do, and this started the three of us conspiring together to create games, skits, bulletin boards, postcards and more. This resulted in our love for collaboration and over the last decade, we planned several VBS like English Camps for our trips to Polička, Czech Republic. You could say Mom trained us to be program planners and work as a team. My Dad is a project engineer and as we helped him build things and do different projects, he rubbed off on us too, since I've been told my leadership skills reflect the qualities of a project director rather than a business executive.
My love for music grew as I began to play the flute in fifth grade. I saw my first orchestra concert in seventh grade and I decided that was what I wanted to do with my life. I started to live that life, too, while I was in Madison, WI studying for my graduate degree in flute performance. For better or worse, I had an injury in my hand which kept(and still keeps) me from playing at the height needed for professional work. I had always felt a calling to ministry, but I thought music was my ministry. Suddenly there was an opportunity for me to teach English in the Czech Republic, and I found myself immersed in a new culture and rediscovering myself and God.
My family's church back in Ponca City, Oklahoma had been in partnership with a congregation in Polička, Czech Republic, ever since their pastor, Rev. Jan Dus, had come to our church to work with the youth and families to bring back ideas for use in his congregation. People from my congregation including my mom, dad and sister, had already been to Polička three times to interact with the community in an English Camp. Pastor Jan asked me to come and help them continue the English Camp throughout the whole year, as a way to reach out to the community and dispel false myths about the church in the culture. You can read back through my discoveries in this blog about their culture, about the effect of the American culture on the world, and about our intercultural dialogues.
While, I was teaching English and working with the youth, I found myself wishing I could just teach the Bible. I felt God calling me to seminary to figure out what that looked like. I came in with an image of a Pastor as the one who preached and cared for the people. In my last semester of seminary I developed an independent study on pastoral care for children and youth, and I discovered how I was already beginning to act as a pastor for some of those children in the Czech Republic. The love I felt and desired to share with those children and youth was the love and encouragement of a pastor.
During my studies at Columbia Theological Seminary, I was also continuously drawn to intercultural studies, looking at cultures within cultures and reflecting on ways to encourage true dialogue, where people are seen, heard, and name their experience together. I thought I had left this blog behind and tried to start new ones that would focus on worship or theology, but I couldn't write them. Finally, I returned to this blog, because I realized that when I view life as a journey, or "expedition", my curiosity leads to amazing discoveries about others, myself and most importantly about God.
My first call to a more structured pastoral ministry brought me to the community of St Paul, Nebraska, where I have served as a solo pastor at the First Presbyterian Church. We enjoyed discovering ways to create more participation in worship and welcome children and young families. I developed fun preaching styles incorporating art, music and storytelling. In fact, they called me the "Singing Preacher", because I have been known to sing hymn verses throughout a sermon and from time to time in a funeral message. I incorporated my sermon art as "clip art" for our bulletins, newsletters, and websites. I’ve further developed my pastoral identity through these artistic visions of my ministry as one of a Farmer/Sower and a cheerful bird, announcing God’s message for all who hear. The kids knew me as Pastor Kati, the one who taught them funny Bible songs and loved to play indoor and outdoor games with them in our afterschool programs and game nights.
Since the spring of 2014, I have been enjoying the most exciting adventure of my life: marriage. My husband and I love to play board games together and explore life with joy and a deep thankfulness to God for the many blessings we have received along the way. He is a born and bred Kansas native (KState, Royals, and Chiefs fan), teaching me all of the necessary people/stats/cheers to be a good KState Fan. We love to go to local coffee shops together and bring our board games along! We especially love serving God together, whether it's through hanging out with the youth, having a deep discussion with strangers in a local venue, or volunteering in a community dinner.
Since the spring of 2015, I have been serving as an Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, KS. I am specifically called to the youth, young-adult and college ministries and bringing in my musical gifts along the way. Czech my blog for more updates on our ministry in Manhappiness!
If you'd like to hear some of my sermons, czech out the Sermon tab where you can also find some of my favorite videos Robbie and I have made together. Now you can see me and my co-workers for God, telling stories and sharing God's love. Have a great day!