Nicole Lamarche (MDiv ‘05) calls herself a social entrepreneur. After serving two established New England congregations, first as Pastoral Resident at Wellesley Congregational Church, and then as Pastor of Cotuit Federated Church on Cape Cod, she was called to plant a new church for new times, a “startup” call to worship.
“Building a congregation from scratch is the most challenging experience I have ever had… I have had to find creative new expressions for ancient ideas,” she said. “Because there is no recipe, the only way forward is experimentation and innovation.”
For Lamarche, Pacific School of Religion was a safe place not just to push her theological thinking, but her socio-political thinking.
“I read Toni Morrison and Alice Walker as theology… protested the Iraq war and saw I wanted to be a peacemaker for real.” Lamarche said of her time at PSR, “I entered afraid and left with what I needed to follow God beyond walls.”
Lamarche returns often to those sources coded onto her theology. “Like a lot of things in life, I was nourished deeply at PSR and that provision of education, love and empowerment will always be a part of my life and work.”
Starting a church in Silicon Valley for its technology savvy residents inspired Lamarche to think about an update to church organizing, a 3.0 congregation.
“We are progressive Christians, agnostics, spiritual independents and other people of conscience who want to live with purpose and joy in a community rooted in love.” She said of the people who attend her church, “We hold a vision of a radically inclusive, deeply spiritual, unapologetically progressive, theologically diverse faith community for the post-modern world and we know we are not alone.”
When asked what she hopes for PSR, she said, “People are spiritually hungry and unsure where it is safe to turn and who else is asking, ‘What about the common good?’ Pacific School of Religion can serve as a place of spiritual nourishment and a morally grounded education where people of all kinds from a variety of fields can come to be inspired and equipped.”