Rev. Chris Kliesen Wehrman arrived at Prospect Park United Methodist Church in July of 2011. Known for her “Wild Blessings” signature greeting, Pastor Chris is steeped in the “already…and not yet” of the Kin-dom of God fulfilled.
“Resurrection is at work in the roots and the sap and the canopy of this world – in earth and air and fire and water – in Spirit and in stone. Rebirth is built into the Ground of All Being! And at the same time, the blooming of the Kin-dom, Creator’s best idea fulfilled, is yet delayed. The implementation of Jesus’ teachings is yet unrealized. We are interwoven with so many and diverse expressions of Life, of one family in Holy reality; we carry Kin-dom within us. And at the same time, we are continually estranged from right relationship with all that Was and Is and Is to Come. Our lives, our calling; our purpose stands in the gap between the now and the not yet.
One of Chris’ greatest joys at PPUMC is creating meaningful worship experiences. Blending traditional sacraments and symbols with contemporary expressions of justice, love, prayer, service, salvation and song, services are often interactive while fostering a sense of curiosity and wonder – while demanding relevant engagement. She excels in bringing scripture alive in the moment and applying it to current context. And, like everywhere, as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought major changes for PPUMC. Pastor Chris has led the congregation with common sense and compassion, facing the challenges head-on.
“Our building is resting. Our church, though, is most emphatically alive and at work! We are scattered, yes, and that is both our challenge and the gift! We have learned new ways. And we have learned that we CAN LEARN new ways! We will not be afraid of what we cannot see ahead because we have not let go of one another and what brings us together. We are a community broadly planted and willing to see clearly and open our eyes to how we are called to be the church. We have work to do!”
Chris was born and raised on the plains of northwest Kansas and considers wind, black dirt and big sky to be her natural habitat. In her first career, Pastor Chris spent more than 20 years in professional theater where she toured and worked primarily in Omaha, Chicago, and eventually Minneapolis. As a member of the Dudley Rigg’s Brave New Workshop in Minneapolis she wrote, performed and taught improvisation for nearly a decade. She later served as curator of educational resources at The Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis as well as Director of Theater Ministries at Lake Harriet UMC in Minneapolis prior to her Commissioning as a UM Elder an her first appointment at PPUMC.
As pastor, Chris has directed several productions in the sanctuary of PPUMC, an “in-house” old-style radio show in 2011, and The Man of La Mancha and A Year With Frog and Toad in 2018 and 2019. Pastor Chris holds a Master of Divinity Theology and the Arts degree from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, and a MA in English Literature from Creighton University in Omaha. Her undergraduate degree is in Theater Communication with a minor in Psychology.