By Paul Leighton, 11/18/20, The Salem News.
… The First Baptist Church in Beverly (MA) has hired a new minister from California. And it won’t have to pay her moving costs.
The Rev. Jaimie Crumley has been hired as a “virtual minister.” Since coming on board, she’s been preaching at online Sunday services and meeting with church members via Zoom without leaving her home in Inglewood, California.
“It is definitely unusual, especially living all the way across the country,” Crumley said. “It’s not like I run into people in the grocery store.”
Like many churches, the First Baptist Church has been holding services on-line during the pandemic. The Rev. Julie Flowers, one of the First Baptist’s two senior ministers, said virtual ministry is likely to continue in some form or another even after it is safe to resume in-person services. So when it came time to hire an associate minister, they decided to make it a full-time virtual position.
“It opened up possibilities that in-person ministry doesn’t,” Flowers said. “We posted it saying this candidate could live anywhere as long as they could work on the Eastern time zone. We got candidates from all over the country.”
Flowers said Crumley, 30, was a great candidate because of her “dexterity in the virtual space,” including experience with podcasting.
…Crumley grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, and is now working on her PhD in the department of gender studies at UCLA. She’s a graduate of Wellesley College and Yale Divinity School, where she was awarded the Mersick Prize for effective public address.
Crumley said she is trying to create as many “touchstones” as possible to get to know First Baptist Church members. She has chatted with people on Zoom coffee hours after Sunday services and hosted a virtual blessing of the animal services. She’s planning to do a weekly podcast based on the church’s theme for the year, “The Journey is Our Home.”