Memoir By Local Pastor Focuses on Faith and Family
Katherine Willis Pershey does more than counsel the parishioners at First Congregational Church of Western Springs. She’s now a published author, sharing some personal challenges she hopes can help others.
Katherine Willis Pershey wants to make it clear that her new book, Any Day A Beautiful Change — A Story of Faith and Family, is not a “how-to book.”
“It’s about my early years of family, from my perspective as a working minister,” Pershey said. “It has some spiritual reflection about parenting and marriage and some of the hardships we faced in the first years, but also the ways we got through that.”
Pershey counsels families and married couples as part of her job as associate pastor at First Congregational Church of Western Springs. She said while it’s “kind of ambitious” to think her book will be of interest to all audiences, she said she does think that almost anyone will find something useful in its pages.
“With memoirs, there’s always an obvious first audience of people who share the same demographic as the author,” she said. “But there’s something magical about entering the reality of someone who’s unlike you. I do think that all kinds of people can find something worthwhile in the book.
“There’s something to be said for stepping into someone else’s experience.”
Pershey, 31, said juggling parenting, work, and writing wouldn’t be possible without the help of her husband Benjamin. When she gave birth to their second daughter, now 10 months old, Benjamin left his job in social work to be a stay-at-home dad. The couple’s other daughter is 4 years old.
Pershey got a contract to write the book just as she was interviewing for her job at First Congregational. She said she was worried her role as an author might be viewed as a distraction to a new job. But, she said the church has a history of published pastors and the interviewing panel was impressed with her new achievement.
“I do see writing as part of my ministry,” she said. “The church has been very supportive of that.”
She said she wrote the bulk of the book the same year the family was moving cross-country. Originally from Ohio, she was living in California when she got the job in Western Springs two years ago.
“It would seem like the worst time [to write the book], but there was something about being in this time of transition,” she said. “I was writing a book about change.”
She said when she is counseling others as part of her ministry, she does a lot of listening.
“It’s important for people to speak honestly about their experiences,” Pershey said. “It not only gives people an opportunity to reflect on their own experiences, but it gives people permission to be honest and to tell their own stories.”