And one whose name I get to use! I call her Pope Laura the Beneficent, because while she was a member of the congregation I serve, she had the distinction of being one of the central figures of the church. Though the UCC does not have popes, if we did, she would be the pope of our little church, at least. As a child of the church, she became a leader of the church, and her credibility spanned the generations of the church's membership. As a progressive UCCer, she helped lead this family-size congregation towards its Open and Affirming stance and gave members the courage to act on their beliefs. She also invited them to live and love graciously in the midst of difference.
When she moved several years ago, it was quite a blow to the church, and we have spent a fair amount of time learning how to reorient our leadership patterns. Yet the move was the right one for her and her family, and we are lucky enough to "get" all of them on many holidays. So it's with gratefulness and love that I call her "my pope" and celebrate the life she is living and the strength she brings to her living and to her faith. She's an inspiration. Go read her "religious blog" here.