The Rev. Letha Wilson-Barnard
I was raised in the Twin Cities, and am happy to make my home here with my husband, Scott, of 37 years. Together we have an adult daughter, Emily. I was raised in a Baptist church and at age 4, I accepted Jesus as my Savior, and at age 12, I was baptized. As a teen, I responded to an invitation by a visiting missionary from China, to commit myself to serve God however God wanted to use me. My husband and I found our way to the Episcopal Church in our mid-20s where we were drawn to the beauty of the liturgy (the order and language of the worship service). We felt welcomed into a loving community and were invited to use our gifts in ministry. We didn’t have to have all the answers, but could bring our doubts and questions, our authentic selves to church, and we didn’t have to leave our brains at the door. I found like-minded people with hearts for justice and community engagement. Most significantly, for the first time I met a God of mercy and compassion, exemplified in the person, ministry, and teaching of Jesus. I experienced acceptance, forgiveness, and a call to the priesthood, though it took me more than a dozen years before I entered seminary. I received my B.A from Bethel University; and my Master of Divinity from Luther Seminary, with an Anglican Certificate from Virginia Theological Seminary.
I have served as a priest at Holy Apostles, a Hmong-majority congregation, since 2007, and as a deacon and student intern, before that. I have been moved to hear the stories of faith of the Hmong faithful, who were forced to flee Laos for their lives, when the U.S. pulled out of the Vietnam War and the Secret War in Laos. Their experiences of God’s provision, protection, and healing have challenged and strengthened my faith. I’ve been blessed to be welcomed into this loving, and faithful Hmong community, to experience Hmong hospitality and learn about beautiful Hmong traditions. As the Vicar, I heard a desire in the congregation for Hmong lay and ordained leadership. My joy and purpose, these last several years, has been to help discern, advocate for, form, and mentor a leadership team, the Shared Ministry Team, made up of six lay ministers, plus four priests and three deacons. God is faithful. Whoever you are, whatever your background, whether you have much faith or little, or don’t know the story of Jesus at all, you are welcomed at Holy Apostles to find community, grow in faith in Jesus Christ, and discover your gifts to serve God and our troubled world.