Easto appointed to the Baltimore Suburban District
If the Rev. Laura Easto’s ministry is known for one trait it might be “empowering people to live their faith out loud.” As the new superintendent of the Baltimore Suburban District, she hopes that daring to live boldly in relationship with Christ, each day, will serve the church well.
This idea of relationship is a pivotal one for Easto. "Everything rests on where we're going, how we're going and who we're taking with us," she said. "Ultimately, it's about building relationships with God and one another. How do you understand your relationship with God? How do you live that out with your neighbor?"
Over the years, Easto said, she has grown in her relationship with Christ so that her spiritual life and practices are now inseparable with who she is on a daily basis. She imagines Christ walking alongside her. "It's companionship I wouldn't know how to do without," she said.
Easto entered the ministry in 1984, pursuing a more traditional progression of entering seminary right after college and then serving larger and larger churches with each new appointment. She was a pastor at Marvin Chapel, Calvary UMC in Frederick, Providence UMC in Kemptown, Milford Mill UMC in Randallstown, and University UMC in College Park. She also served as superintendent of the former Baltimore North District in 2007, and most recently, as pastor of Westminster UMC.
At Westminster, a passion for caring for the homeless and under-housed was awakened in her. "Justice is not an abstract concept for me," she said. Working with the church's feeding program, she would eat meals with the guests who came for food. In the sharing of bread, and stories, relationship was built, she said.
Combining justice and relationship in unique ways that serve God also shows up in other aspects of Easto's ministry at local, conference, jurisdictional and general levels of the denomination. From Bishop Joseph Yeakel, who ordained her, she learned that United Methodists are a people of two books -- the Bible and the Discipline.
"I have come to learn that the Discipline really is not a rule book," Easto said. "It is a book of covenant. It connects us."
As a superintendent, Easto is excited about building these connections and a sense of relationship in ministry. She wants each of the district's churches to know "there is a reason you sit at the corner you sit at. There is a reason you are where you are," she said. "We need to rediscover our vision, reach out and try new things, deepen our relationship with Christ and open wider the doors."
As a leader, she wants to help pastors and laity accomplish this by helping them to find their passion and pursue it. "Nothing is worse for a pastor than having their passion be allowed to shrivel and die," Easto said.
When she's not working, Easto's passions revolve around her husband, David, and her two young adult children. She also enjoys reading, quilting and is developing an expertise as a wood turner.
This winter, she'll be taking a Sabbath leave to reenergize that part of herself that listens closely and attentively to God. As a God-inspired person, Easto is constantly aware of God's presence all around her. But this Sabbath time is giving her time and opportunities to be "hyper-aware," as she looks creatively to the future and "new opportunities to respond to God's exciting, life-affirming love."