On the Job with pastor heidi fish

“There is such joy in this work for me, it is what I was made for.”

How it started… A member of her church asked Heidi what her plans were for college, she responded by saying she was planning on attending the University of Washington. He then went on to ask if she had ever considered Seminary and the Ordained Ministry?

The hair on the back of Heidi’s neck stood up and she knew in that moment exactly what she was prepared for and who she was supposed to be. She had never seen a woman preach from the pulpit, so it never occurred to her. Yet, when she heard him say that—she knew.

Heidi went on to attend the University of Washington studying Psychology; in fact her father was the Business Manager for the UW Psych Department. While in college Heidi also took Greek and found she had a love for languages. After graduation, Heidi attended Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA. http://www.plts.edu

After school she did a two-year Internship in Portland, OR. It was an amazing experience and the beginning of Heidi’s love of her new career. Her first parish was the Hoodland Lutheran Church at the base of Mt Hood. It was a diverse congregation in a small town and the experience set her on her path.

Pastor Heidi Fish

Coming full circle brought her to Celebration Lutheran Church in Anacortes. When a congregation is seeking a pastor through the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ECLA) it is a long process. The congregation starts with a self-study during the pastoral transition, lasting anywhere from six months to two years, depending on what’s happening within the congregation.

Then a congregational profile is prepared and submitted to the Bishop’s Office, who matches it to a Rostered Leader Profile, basically a resume of a pastor. Then the Bishop will submit 3-5 recommendations to the call committee for the congregation. The interviews commence—A mutual interview of a pastor and the congregation. After they find the right match, a good fit, they put it to vote.

Celebration Lutheran voted unanimously for Heidi Fish to be their pastor. Heidi had 30 days to consider it, but she knew right away. It was the first time, in an interview setting, where she felt she could absolutely be herself and be accepted.

Lutheran tradition includes a tradition of questioning. They take scripture seriously; they also take seriously the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives and other sources, but Heidi also finds inspirations in others and in their traditions.

“I believe that God works and speaks in all traditions,” Heidi said.

After spending a year as Executive Director at Camp Brotherhood, a camp founded on fostering interfaith dialogue, Heidi’s life was enriched and opened up in powerful ways to see how God works in all traditions.

For Pastor Heidi Fish, Celebration Lutheran is a creative, flexible, progressive congregation, open-minded, and diverse range of people. They even change up their worship services to fit the diversity.

I asked Heidi, “What do you feel you’ve brought to Anacortes?”

“We always impact the system. Every time a new person comes in, the whole is changed,” replied Heidi.

Celebration Lutheran worships at the Depot Arts and Community Center. They worship in a space that historically was a place where people brought their baggage. A place to set down their burdens, a place to rest, it was not the place where you stayed, but a place where you connected.

“It’s a way station on your journey…” Heidi told me.

Church is a supposed to be a healing place. Here they can bring their whole self and celebrate their authenticity.

What does Heidi bring?

1. Her own energy

2. Optimism

3. Hope

4. The ability to see the good and the potential and articulate it.

5. Compassion

6. Brings her own baggage, but that helps her be a better pastor

7. Spirit of Welcome and Hospitality

8. Curiosity and interest in people’s stories

What else interests her?

1. Celebration Lutheran enjoys being a part of the Anacortes 4th of July parade.

2. Taking Tango Lessons with her husband.

3. Taking Bailey (their 18 month Golden doodle) to the Dog Park.

4. Volunteering at Island Hospital in the Volunteer Chaplain Program

Anacortes has welcomed Heidi and her husband warmly. They moved into a welcoming neighborhood and love it. Anacortes has a creative vibe that is fun. Heidi believes there is a broad-range of people in Anacortes and they treat each other with mutual respect. And, Celebration Lutheran is a healthy community and has the capacity to learn and grow.

What does Heidi love about her job?

She loves celebrating life and being a part of when they are born, when they marry, even in death.

Not often does someone connect so much to his or her job, for Heidi it isn’t a job, it is who she is meant to be.

by Jill Kellogg


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