The Island welcomes the newest minister for the United Methodist Church community, the Rev. Joanne Hus. I was able to chat with her on Tuesday about how it feels to be here, and how she was called to serve.
First off, she explained to me that this was not her first career. She spent years as a graphic designer and visual artist, and only felt called to serve in the church about seven years ago, when she was 60. She’s new to ministry, as well as being new to the Island. But there are advantages in that newness. She sounds as if she could breathe new life into just about anything when you speak with her. She told me about how she got to this place.
Hus’s father-in-law was dying when she had a conversation with her sister-in-law, who had been a hospice nurse and was helping the family cope with his death. She was also an ordained minister. They were walking one day, and her sister-in-law said to Hus, “When are you going to become a minister?” It took some life changes to get onto that path, but Hus hasn’t turned back.
“It was hard, because I had been working in corporate America in a Fortune 500 company, and I was let go at 52,” Hus told me. And when God came calling, she had to quit the new job she had begun so she could go to seminary. Her husband carried the financial load for the duration.
“I was very, very fortunate everything fell into place, and I can’t believe my good fortune that I get to serve on this Island,” she said.
Being on an island is not new to Hus; she lived in Puerto Rico for a dozen years, so she understands what it means to be separated from the mainland. She’s discovered, though, that we’re lacking in vets to treat her cats, and also in primary care physicians. “We’re on lots of lists,” she laughed.
There was one thing in particular that really struck me when I spoke to her, one thing beyond her enthusiasm, which was also apparent. Hus was talking about how impressed she is by the Island community’s response to the Venezuelan migrant episode, when the Florida governor decided to fly them to Martha’s Vineyard in September 2022.
“I was really so impressed with how the Island as a whole responded to this crisis, and rallied to help these folks who were just tossed here,” Hus said. They were told there would be jobs and housing here, and the cruelty of that was “mind-boggling,” she said.
“What I came to realize,” she said, “was if that governor knew how much and how deeply God loves him, there would be no need for this nonsense. There’s no need to hoard power to dominate someone, to feel better about ourselves by putting other people down. I see that as my primary task as a pastor, to remind people how very much God loves them.”
She said the world keeps telling us how unloved we are — we’re not wealthy enough, not able-bodied enough, not enough in general. “And that’s not the truth,” Hus said. “The fact that you are here on this planet breathing, you are loved straight up.”
Wow. That was impressive to hear.
Hus said she’s enjoying the “mutual formation” that happens between a pastor and the congregation. And the Holy Spirit has everything to do with what happens, she said.
“When we’re open to the Holy Spirit individually and in the wider community, who knows where it’ll take us? I don’t know everybody’s name yet. I’ve been visiting homebound, those who can’t worship on Sunday. We’re in the early stages.”
One change Hus has brought is that the congregation will experience communion every week, not just once a month, as is the tradition. It comes from years ago, when preachers riding a circuit only visited a church once a month, and brought communion then. At the Campground church, they’ll partake in the common communion of gluten-free bread and grape juice every week, and everyone is welcome.
“We’re all hot messes,” Huss said, “and this is where we come for healing, for compassion toward each other and toward ourselves. This is where we reconnect with the love that is the foundation of everything.”
Communion is a meal, she says, and through sharing meals, people come together: “I’m sure there will be other new things we’ll do. I hope to be here for a good long time. We’ll see where God takes it. I’m so loving being part of this community, and can’t wait to see what God brings us.”