Today marks the beginning of a new appointment year in the life of the Louisiana Conference.
Hundreds of pastors have been re-appointed to their existing church communities or new communities. One of those is Rev. Karli Pidgeon, who is, yet again, starting an appointment as a "first-ever".
"I have been the 'first African American female' in every position I have served, so it feels in line with my ministry," says Pidgeon. "To know that we are still experiencing 'firsts' shows that progress is being made, but there is still a ways to go."
Pidgeon recognizes the historic nature of her appointment in Louisiana and the history that has come before her. "I stand on the shoulders of Bishop Leontine T. C. Kelly, Rev. Charlotte Nichols, and Rev. Joethel Jeannette Cooper Dicks (first two African American Female District Superintendents of the United Methodist Church in 1990)," says Pidgeon. "I am thankful for those who have paved the way and broken down the barriers to equality and equity. Now, thirty years since those first women took their seats at the Cabinet Table, here I am walking the paths they've walked and chartering new ones for future generations."
Pidgeon is a native of Baton Rouge who graduated from Spelman College and received her MDiv from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Pidgeon had not always thought she would spend her life in ministry. You can listen to more of her story on the Louisiana NOW podcast, where she reflects on past careers, everything from working as a government contractor to being a "literal starving artist."
"I am humbled and excited to serve with the clergy and laity of the Lake Charles District," Pidgeon says. "I am eager for this next phase of my ministry and the opportunity to use my gifts and skills on a broader scale. I hope to be a leader that listens purposefully, leads transformationally, serves passionately, and utilizes our collaborative skills across the Lake Charles District."
Bishop Cynthia Fierro is thrilled to have appointed Pidgeon as a District Superintendent. "Her enthusiasm and knowledge, not only of the Louisiana Conference but the larger United Methodist Church will be an asset during this season of our life and work," Bishop Harvey says. "Pidgeon is highly capable, and her qualifications make her an extraordinary gift to Louisiana."
Pidgeon brings her laugh and much more to the office of District Superintendent, notably her most previous appointment as the Associate Director of the Office of Congregational Development and Transformation. It's a position Bishop Harvey says can help the Conference navigate its unique circumstances amidst a pandemic.
The 43-year-old Baton Rouge native says now is the time for all of us to be flexible. "There is no going back to 'usual'. All we can do is open our hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit's guidance, and trust that God will order a path forward," Pidgeon says. "This gives the Church a unique opportunity to innovate and try things we've never done before and reach people we might not have normally encountered. I also think there needs to be a level of grace and patience with everyone."
It is not lost on Pidgeon that her appointment comes on the heels of a significant moment in this country regarding racial injustice. Pidgeon is quick to point out that the pain and damage of racism are deeply ingrained in our society.
Her call is for everyone to become educated, "We need to listen and hear one another and partner together to bring about effective change within our churches and communities. As Ibram Kendi says in "How to be an Antiracist," 'To be antiracist is a radical choice in the face of history, requiring a radical reorientation of our consciousness.'"
Pidgeon says we also have a significant responsibility as Christians. "Our baptismal covenant asks, 'Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?" Pidgeon reminds us. "It asks us, 'Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves? We have a responsibility to respond to those questions daily."
Pidgeon begins her new duties as District Superintendent today, July 1. For more on the Lake Charles district, visit here.