The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By STEVEN WEBER
Valdez Star 

New pastor at Epiphany Church brings a wealth of diverse experiences

Say welcome to a second-generation pastor transitioning into Alaska culture

 


Kaitlin Pabo-Eulberg recently began serving as the new pastor of the Epiphany Lutheran-Episcopal Church in Valdez.

Pabo-Eulberg completed her Master of Divinity in Pastoral Leadership at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary of California Lutheran University in Berkeley in 2016.

During her seminary in Berkeley she had the unique experience to do a homeless cultural immersion.

"I was able to do a three-week immersion in the streets of San Francisco. I spent the first week walking and learning about all the ways homeless people are pushed out in certain areas of SF," Pabo-Eulberg said.

During the immersion, Pabo-Eulberg, who kept shelter hours and utilized public showers/restrooms during the immersion, learned "people just want to be treated as humans."

Although new to being a church pastor, Pabo-Eulberg is not new to finding a faith-based role – both of her parents are pastors.

"I have a deep calling to be present with people in their hurts, especially trauma so I did a residency at a hospital in Oakland and worked as an inter-faith hospital chaplain." Pabo-Eulberg said. Her role as a chaplain, where she completed over 1600 hours of service, helped to develop her skills as a multi-cultural minister.

"I have provided pastoral care for people who are Buddhist and speak Vietnamese, Spanish-speaking Catholics, and Yemeni Muslims to name a few," she said.

Pabo-Eulberg's previous work as a hospital chaplain and cultural immersions during seminary may come in handy for some of the struggles of the greater church.

"Faith communities have a particular role that we can play in connecting people across diverse cultures and perspectives. Now, more than ever, it's vital for us to recognize God's call for us to bring good news to the poor, proclaim freedom to the imprisoned, and comfort the grieved. God calls us to really connect with people who are different than us," she said.

Pabo-Eulberg sees Protestant theology as being very inclusive.

"Lutheran and Episcopal theology is not about how to achieve greatness or worrying about being saved because Christ already sees us as worthy people in our brokenness. Lutheran and Episcopal theology is about the Gospel of loving your neighbor. God teaches us to welcome all people and be neighbors for people for exactly who they are," she said.

One other struggle that Pabo-Eulberg points out with the Lutheran faith is that, "Lutherans and Episcopalians are really good at doing service but we can struggle with talking clearly about our faith," she said. "While our faith community can seem like a small group of people, it is a group of people that make a huge difference. Sometimes it can be a volunteer that shows up to play the piano after being in the Emergency Room with a patient at 4 a.m."

One of Pabo-Eulberg's goals is to build confidence in others.

"The way I view leadership is recognizing the gifts in others and how do I lift them up," she said. "God loves us and especially gives us grace in the places we feel broken. Religious spaces and churches have been places where people can feel more rejected or hurt. I believe that the task of people of faith is to welcome all people for who they are, because God loves each of us for exactly who we are."

For Pabo-Eulberg coming from Berkeley has been a huge cultural shift.

Photo courtesy Nick Pabo-Eulberg

Kaitlin Pabo-Eulberg, the new pastor at Epiphany Lutheran-Episcopal Church in Valdez.

"That's part of the reason I wanted to come here. It's more important for me to walk with people with diverse views and I can learn more that way," she said. "I already feel like I am learning so much from the people here in Alaska."

Despite the transition from California to Alaska, Pabo-Eulberg sees a lot of opportunity in Valdez.

"There is a lot of space for people to have good connections here and I think people are wrestling with faith and their own struggles," she said. "I'm really excited to be here and walking with people on that journey and learning a lot from the people here. It's been nice to be welcomed by everyone including other pastors and people are so generous here. I am excited to be able to extend that generosity in my years here."

 

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