"When I got the call asking me to preach the retirement worship service, I immediately began asking God, 'What is the word that you have for us today?'" said Rev. Julie Poulsen on June 5, 2021, during the Recognition of Retirement Service. "I thought, and I prayed, and I waited, and soon the words came to me. 'Thank you for loving my people.' I was a little surprised that it was thank you!"
Poulsen joins the retirement class of 2021 this July when she retires from being the pastor at Jefferson, First United Methodist Church, finishing off her career of 40 years in full-time ministry and seven years of part-time preceding that.
"It's wonderful to know that the Lord appreciates our work. And I would like to add my thanks," said Poulsen.
Poulsen read from Luke 4, when Jesus came to Nazareth, and went on to thank all the retirees for their countless contributions in ministry, including bringing good news to the poor, proclaiming the release of those held captive, loving all God's people, visiting the sick, teaching the bible, taking a stand for justice, building churches, leading mission trips and so much more.
"Thank you all for your obedience to the call to serve God. And you are forgiven. For the times you dropped the ball, the times you broke the covenant, the times that things didn't go as you had planned. 'I love you,' says the Lord, 'and I appreciate you.' I'm so grateful to have the privilege of telling you this message of gratitude. I know that God wants us all to know we are appreciated and loved," said Poulsen.
"God is proud of you, dear friends and colleagues," she told the retirees and adding that she has spent the last couple of years asking God what the call is for her next in her retirement.
"I started imagining different places I might like to work, where I might like to volunteer, but nothing stuck. Then I finally heard the call, and it came as it often comes to me as just a couple of words or a phrase or an insight. And it's actually the same advice I got when I first began ministry," said Poulsen. "I asked a few of my colleagues when I was a young pastor what advice they had for me, and without fail. They all said, 'Love the people.' And I thought I could do that. I'll try. And now I hear God's saying in retirement, 'Keep loving all God's children.' And for me, in particular, I hear God's saying, 'Start with really loving those you've neglected while serving more than full time.'"
She continued adding she also hears God's voice saying, "Don't give up on the church. Don't give up on the body of Christ." Continuing noting that the church is imperfect, but it's still the best way to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
"We're all used to being in charge. That's going to change for some of us sooner than others. But even when that change comes, let's remember to listen with love. To listen to our children or your significant others. Be kind to those who serve us, wait on us and speak with love by frequently saying, 'I love you. I'm sorry. Thank you,'" said Poulsen.
Poulsen described her journey in ministry by sharing stories of her fears, feelings of inadequacies, embarrassments, and excitements.
"And to you who are the next generation of pastors and Christian educators and youth leaders and musicians, who will all one day be retiring, I pray God will fill your heart with fire for the love of Jesus, and that you too will remember these great words, 'Keep loving God's children,'" she concluded.
Retirees Recognized for 2021:
Robert W. Barrick
Beverlee A. Bell - reflection
Jackie L. Bradford - reflection
Michael A. Christie
Patti Lu D Ford
Edward E. Frank
Paul E. Frederiksen - reflection
Dawn E. Freese
Karen L. Garrison
Harlan D. Gillespie - reflection
Douglas P. Harding - reflection
Mary Kathryn Hart
Cynthia C. Hickman
John D. Howerton
Gary W. Hoyt
Momodu A. Kamara - reflection
Matthew P. Miller
Roxanne L. Miller-Wessling
Gerald D. Neal
Diana M. Pollard
Julia E. Poulsen - *see bio below
Joyce A. Proctor
Stephen J. Ransom
Linda S. Reida
Dan V. Ridnouer
Valerie A. Ridnouer
Lyndon W. Roesler
James F. Schutter - reflection
Michael D. Stevens
Nancy Sutherland - reflection
Diane E. Townsley
David A. Weesner - reflection
Gayle M. Wilcox - reflection
Paul N. Wilcox - reflection
Shirley H. Will
Alaire Willits - reflection
Patricia H. Youngquist
2021 Retirees to be Recognized in 2022
Rev. Gregory S. Clapper
Pastor Audrey H. Westendorf
Pastor Garold H. Hansen
* Rev. Julie Poulsen's Bio:
Julia E F "Julie" Poulsen identified as a preacher's kid and was an active Methodist attending church camps and going to Annual Conference with her father, Rev. Jim Poulsen, starting at age three. Her call to ministry came during her 6th-grade Confirmation in Monroe, Iowa. Julie was a District Youth officer and on the Iowa Conference Youth Council. Julie worked during summer college vacations on the Iowa Youth Caravan, Companionship Happening, Parish Experience Program, and in youth ministry. She graduated magna cum laude from Simpson College, majoring in religion in 1977. Julie attended church camp as the child of a director, a youth, a counselor, an assistant director of Exceptional Persons camp, and a director of Creative Arts Camp for six years. For the last 40 years, Julie has sent (or driven) numerous children, teens, and grandparents to church camp from her churches.
Julie graduated from Wesley Theological Seminary in 1981. Ordained to Deacon in 1978 and Elder in 1982, Julie was committed to the Iowa Conference. Her ministries during Seminary included Bar and Street Ministry in the Okoboji area, Downtown Ministries in Alexandria, VA/youth ministry, choir director and organist, Culmore UMC youth minister in Falls Church, VA, and Summer Interim pastor in Iowa Arlington and Volga. Starting in 1981, Julie served at the following Iowa churches full time: Newton St Luke, Marengo, Cedar Rapids new church start "New Creation," Washington, and Jefferson. Julie has served on several Conference committees, including as an officer in several: Board of Ordained Ministry, 10 years, Vice-Chair 4 years; Board of Church and Society, Parish Development, Nominations, currently Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry, Chairperson. Julie served on several District Committees on Ministry, often as an officer, and enjoyed mentoring several people over the years in the process of candidacy and ordination.
Julie and Dennis Fox were married in 1987 and will retire to Ankeny, where they bought a new little home. Julie has lived in parsonages for 52 years. Her favorite part of ministry is matching people and their gifts with a meaningful place of service where they will be fulfilled and fruitful. For 50+ years, Julie has befriended the poor, the mentally ill, the lonely, the discriminated against, and the bullied ones and shared with them that they are precious and valuable in God's sight and in the church. She and her churches have found ways to give practical help: Such as housing, medical care, furniture, clothing, funds for transportation, food, and love for them all.
Julie and Dennis have two sons, G. Isaac Fox-Poulsen of St Louis, MO and James R. Fox-Poulsen of Ankeny, Iowa. Julie’s mom, Marilyn Brubaker, and her husband live in Paullina, Iowa. Julie’s brothers are in Des Moines. Jamie Poulsen is a music professor at Simpson College. Ted Poulsen is an attorney in Des Moines.