Reverend Bette Johnson Sohm has always had a strong call to lay leadership. Rev. Sohm served on numerous committees while a congregant at Faith United Methodist Church (UMC) in Staten Island. She began taking lay speaker courses and expanded her learning by taking two-year courses and earning certificates in areas that included spiritual direction, Gestalt Pastoral Care and emerging worship.
Rev. Sohm recognized and answered a call to ordained ministry in 2005. She went on to serve part-time as a local pastor with Pine Plains UMC in Pine Plains, New York (2005-2008) and Good Shepherd UMC in Astoria, Queens (2008-2010). In 2010, Rev. Sohm earned a Master of Divinity (M. Div.) from Drew Theological Seminary. She moved to New Paltz, where she was commissioned as provisional elder and ordained in 2013.
Rev. Sohm was appointed to St. Paul’s UMC in Northport, New York in 2018. Rev. Sohm is active and engaged on various levels within the Conference. She has led retreats for various churches and she helped establish and lead the Staten Island branch of the District’s Lay Speaking Ministries School.
In her “spare” time, Rev. Sohm enjoys reading, movies, jig saw puzzles and history. Rev. Sohm holds a Bachelor of Arts in theatre. She met her husband, Glenn, when he was the technical director of the theater at Richmond College on Staten Island.
Pastor Bette’s Message from the October Newsletter
Grace and peace to you, fellow pilgrims.
Many years ago I worked at the local CYO in my neighborhood on Staten Island−often an active place but if the weather turned rough the kids would stay home. Most of them walked there and did not want to do so in the cold, or wet.
One stormy night I was working alone in the office with just a distant sound of a basketball from the gym−not many people out in this weather. Then I heard a soft sound. I looked around and could not see where it was coming from. I went back to my work.
Again, I heard it, a muted cry. Again, I looked. This time, instead of stopping at the reflection of the interior office on the window pane, I looked beyond and saw a very small kitten on the window sill. A little wet, a little bedraggled, it clung desperately to the stone, looked straight at me and opened its mouth in a plea.
I have no idea how it made the jump up to that sill. I went out onto the stone entry of the building and picked the little creature up off the sill. She came home with me that night. I had no need of another cat but she became part of our household for a good many years and was a joy to know.
The weather is turning here in Croton and perhaps people are getting ready to hunker down. As the weather gets colder we pull in. If we add a bit of rain to that then we may decide it is not worth going out. And if a storm comes to town we make sure we have the groceries laid in ahead of time and maybe a good supply of reading material.
The United Methodist Church has faced some bad weather both with the pandemic and with the larger church issues. Asbury was hunkered down for awhile. Perhaps there is a part of us that wants to stay pulled in, with our blankets wrapped round us, and forget about what is outside. Certainly, some of what we need to do is to wait. We don’t know what will happen in the coming months. We don’t know what new diseases may come along and we don’t know what changes are coming in our church or our country. It’s warm and dry inside and we are comfortable for the moment.
But we need to remember that there are those that are caught out in the storm. There are those who need to be invited in because they don’t know if they are welcome. And we need to remember that we need to look past our own reflection if we are to do any good in this world.
I pray that you will err on the side of love this month, that you will risk stepping outside and bringing someone in. I pray that you will look beyond your own reflection and take a chance−for the sake of the gospel.
Peace and blessings,