Dec. 09--PERU -- The Rev. Peggi J. Eller's theme for Advent this week is seeing.
"Seeing the presence of God in the presence of other people instead of things," said Eller of the Peru Community Church.
She began the season with the theme of watching.
"Watching for God's movement and the Holy Spirit around us, being aware and present in the moment," Eller said.
"Sometimes in the holiday season, we get too busy to see perhaps what God is opening our eyes to."
Last week's theme was turning.
"Turning toward the thing we see God is calling to and away from the busyness of all the things we think we have to do," Eller said.
Next week's theme is dreaming.
"Dreaming about a world that is less commercial and less materialistic and focused on peace between peoples where we can dream of a day where we are color-blind," Eller explained.
Christmas 2016 will mark her first time celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ in the North Country.
The Indianapolis native began pastoring at the Peru Community Church in July.
Her trial was by 120 kids at Vacation Bible School after her arrival.
"That's a big Vacation Bible School," Eller said. "It's been a matter of learning the culture and customs of the North Country. It's a different world."
She was appointed to the church by United Methodist Bishop Mark J. Webb.
She didn't know where Peru was located. He told her near Plattsburgh. She asked where that was.
"He said go to Albany and follow the signs to Montreal but get off a couple of exits before," Eller said.
The bishop's prayers as well as his staff brought her to Peru where her gifts and graces best fit.
"I'm the first United Methodist pastor they've had in 50 years, and the first female ever," Eller said.
"The two biggest things we're focused on is being more family friendly interactive worship with families and kids. The second thing, we are focusing on and reaching out to new church members, people who have not been churched."
Her call to ministry came late in life.
"I was working for Lockheed-Martin," Eller said.
"I was an engineering manager and realized my faith life and work life were at odds with one another and had a moment of real clarity, about I needed to make a change with the choices I made in my life."
She left Lockheed-Martin and entered the Theological Seminary at Drew University in 2006.
A single parent, it was a time of real growth for her and her junior-high-school-aged son, Drew, and daughter, Jami, who had to tow the line while she commuted three hours away.
"We all survived," Eller said.
"It was a great experience for the family, and it made them both responsible young folks. That's a mother's dream. They were there at my ordination three years ago. It was not just a dream for me but the three of us."
A PASTORAL LIFE
There were eight in her ordination class.
The United Methodist Church Upper New York Conference ceremony was held before 3,000 people at the On Center in Syracuse.
She served in Endwell, N.Y., the home of the World Series Little Leaguers.
Next, she was appointed to Mount Upton and Guildford churches near Oneonta.
Now, she and Sprite, her Maltese, learn a new terrain.
"Most of the summer I spent settling in," Eller said.
"My dog and I walked a lot to learn the way around and find all the hot spots in Plattsburgh. He's become the church dog. He's always here to greet people. He likes to show off his wardrobe. He has an entire wardrobe of sweaters."
She's joined a curling club north of Champlain. Jamie, a psych graduate student at the University of Minnesota, visited her on Thanksgiving. She deemed Plattsburgh too small a place to live after Minneapolis.
Drew, a mechanical engineer in Texas, plans to visit with his wife during Easter.
Eller sampled her first michigan at Clare and Carl's but it's not something she will go out of her way to get.
Poutine is another matter.
"I said gravy shouldn't go on French fries," Eller said.
"The congregation has been loving inviting me to dinner at their homes and out."
They said she must try the poutine at Pasquale's.
"Now, I will walk over there to get poutine every day of the week," Eller said.
Email Robin Caudell:
(c)2016 the Press-Republican (Plattsburgh, N.Y.)
Visit the Press-Republican (Plattsburgh, N.Y.) at pressrepublican.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
© Tribune Content Agency, source Regional News