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Leanne Wade

The United Congregational Christian Church of Lodi started as a simple idea in 1919, when the First Christian Church and the First Congregational Church made plans for a merger to better suit the needs of their community.

Though this failed to come about, the churches continued a close cooperation until they were finally able to realize this goal on Aug. 4, 1986. Now, 100 years after the two churches started making plans to unify, a new pastor, Reverend Leanne M. Wade, has come to the United Congregational Christian Church of Lodi to spiritually guide the church and “continue the mission work that is engraved in this congregation,” in the new minister’s own words.

The church prides itself on being a progressive Christian voice in Lodi that accepts all ethnicities and sexual orientations and understands the many paths to the holy that people take.

It also takes pride in its status as Lodi’s only open and affirming church, welcoming all those of the LGBTQA community to worship. The United Church of Lodi not only allows those from all walks of life to worship at their church but also does good work advocating for social justice in Lodi’s community.

Wade succeeds the late Reverend Derril E. Peabody, a respected community leader who relentlessly promoted the cause of his church. Peabody died last December, just prior to his planned retirement.

Previously the associate pastor and youth minister, Wade is more than passionate about the United Congregational Christian Church of Lodi and continuing Reverend Peabody’s work with the church.

“This is my home church, the church where I was ordained,” said Wade, who is equally devoted to the church’s status as an open and affirming church.

“We’re called to love all people, and that means all people. Jesus did a lot of work with margins.”

Born in Stockton and educated at such universities as Sonoma State, University of the Pacific, Pacific School of Religion, and the University of Kansas, Wade experienced a “Call” experience, an experience that inspires someone to turn to God and pursue a life in ministry.

In Wade’s case, she was always interested in ministry, so when officials at the Disciples Women Quadrennial asked for women who wanted to be ministers to stand up in 2002, it was natural fit for her.

The official aspects of becoming a pastor was a bit more complicated, however, as neither of the United Congregational Christian Church’s parent denominations, the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ, use contracts for their pastors, and by extension neither does the UCCC itself. Therefore, the church and Wade herself had to “prayerfully discern” if she was the right person for the job.

Outside of the church, Wade is a board-certified music therapist, working in a medical setting providing music therapy services to patients with a variety of diagnoses, such as using relaxing music to decrease anxiety and pain, neurologic music therapy techniques for stroke patients to assist them in communicating, and providing comforting hymns for dying patients.

She has served in this position for over 22 years, having worked with people of all ages and backgrounds. Wade says that both jobs require care and compassion more than anything else.

Wade is planning to cap off her new position with a trip to Scotland, where she hopes to see Iona, the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland, and St. Giles, where John Knox preached for the Reformation. She is also currently working on a few grants to expand the church’s mission work. Her new position will also be celebrated by a summertime event at the church in August.

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