The Reverend Erica L. Brown
While I have studied, worked, and lived in various locales in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Delaware and Illinois, I am from Warren, Ohio, and I believe I will always call this area home. I graduated from Warren G. Harding High School, a proud member of the WGH Panther Marching Band – I played trombone, in Symphonic Band as well as Jazz Band. I played a mean “Sweet Georgia Brown,” by the way. I was also in Latin Club – that’s a little tidbit I don’t normally disclose. I’d like to say that I was secure enough in myself to fully embrace my nerd-like tendencies.
I took those nerd-like tendencies to Mount Union College, or as it is now known, the University of Mount Union, in Alliance, Ohio. I majored in English, and have a double minor in Psychology and Religion. In all honesty, the minor in Religion was something I kind of tripped into. I knew that I was headed to graduate school, and I wanted to take the most demanding classes and professors I could get my hands on. Those happened to be in the Religion Department.
After Mount Union, I spent a year at Big Ten school in the Hoosier State that shall remain nameless. It was a wonderful school, it just wasn’t a good fit for me. I went to Bucknell College in Lewisburg, PA to pursue an MA in English. I wrote my thesis on Spirituality in the Works of Alice Walker, combining my love of literature with a thirst for spiritual growth. While at Bucknell, I experienced a call to ministry that I couldn’t quite understand. Acting primarily on faith, I moved to Chicago to study at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Although a United Methodist by birth and baptism, I lived in Disciples Divinity House. in spite of the fact that I was. It was a wonderful community that sustained me through my studies and continues to have a special place in my heart. Upon careful consideration and prayer, I realized that my theology much more closely aligned with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), which is where I pursued my ordination.
Upon graduation, I served a small church in Villa Park, Illinois in an interim capacity, then I moved to Danvile, Illinois where I served Central Christian Church as an Interim Associate Pastor. In the midst of that, on April 11, 2000, I was ordained. That is a very significant date in my life. In 1970, on April 11, my parents were married. On April 11, 1971, I was baptized – it was Easter morning. In 1985, coincidentally also on April 11, I was confirmed. It is a date weighted with memory and meaning.
I became the Assistant University Chaplain at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois in the months following September 11, 2001. This awakened within me an appreciation of interfaith dialogue and relations, a passion which remains strong. Between chaplaincy positions, I worked on a part-time basis with Family Promise in Girard, Ohio. I was the Director of Spiritual Life and Community Engagement at Wesley College in Dover, Delaware, and most recently the Chaplain at Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois. Because of budget cuts all too common in higher education, I find myself back in the Mahoning Valley.
I love words – I have always enjoyed reading and writing a great deal. Alice Walker is a favorite author… The Temple of My Familiar, my favorite of her novels. I love poetry – of course, Alice Walker, but also Marge Piercy and Mary Oliver. I have several writing projects underway – something about the theology of grief, a series of poems based on the lectionary, the possible beginning of a novel. We shall see. I have also been reviewing books for The Christian Century. Music is important to me – I like a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Creativity in general is important to me. I am an avid scrapbook aficionado, though I can’t quite bring myself to use “scrapbook” as a verb. It’s sharing a piece of a personal narrative through photos and memorabilia, and stretches my creative muscles. I also like to cook, and bake. “Cheesy Goodness” and “ChapChap’s Brownies” are my specialties. When I worked at Blackburn College, I established “Muffin Mondays,” and baked five or six dozen muffins, then wandered around campus handing them out because Mondays are better with muffins. I am a bit of a movie buff. I have been known to go to the theater and see what ever is showing next. My taste is eclectic – from When Harry Met Sally to Shawshank Redemption to Dead Again. Just nothing too gory, please.
This is me, in a nutshell. I hope to have a chance to share more about my story, and I would welcome the opportunity to learn about your story, as well