Minnesota native returns from service in Nebraska
By Greg Hunt
Taking over pastoral duties at the Cambridge United Methodist Church has called Rev. Jean Rollin back home to her native Minnesota after she resided in Nebraska the past seven years. Despite adjusting to the large crop of mosquitoes evident around town this summer, the move was welcoming.
“I applied to come back here because my nuclear family is all in Minnesota, with more family members in Wisconsin,” she explained. “I love coming back to Minnesota Public Radio, and I love the scent and seeing the different trees here.”
Rollin grew up as a preacher’s kid or a “T.O – Theological Offspring” as she also heard the expression, as her father the Rev. Robert Rollin served in a variety of churches around Minnesota.
“He actually retired the year before I was ordained (in 1986), so that was kind of interesting,” said Rev. Jean. “Between what I have lived in and what I have served, I have been in anything from a town of 570 population at that time in Morristown all the way to serving in a suburb of the Twin Cities, and kind of everything in between. My two-point charge in Morristown near Waseca was literally a church in the middle of a bean or corn field, depending on what they planted.”
Rollin was born in St. Paul, and Lake City, Hutchinson, Duluth and Austin are more cities she resided in over the years. She moved in July 2004 to Omaha, Neb., to serve as a faith-based community educator — working interfaith and ecumenically and also with community groups. The church with which she was connected was the only UMC Reconciling Congregation in Nebraska.
“My focus was on healthy communication, ‘good touch/bad touch,’ and healthy relationships — holding workshops at churches to work with their needs,” she continued. Rollin also worked at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with its personal group. “So I was working with different age groups — children all the way through seniors.”
Singing has been a life-long love of Rollin’s, trained in classical, jazz and Broadway styles. While in Omaha, she sang with the River City Mixed Chorus. At past churches, she has led Grades K-3 children’s choirs called “God’s Kids.” Depending on the Sunday schedule, Rev. Rollin is hoping to join the church choir during some of its hymn singing.
“I have a passion for reaching people who have either been hurt by the church or felt alienated. My first Sunday here (June 26), I talked about wrestling with one’s faith. I’m a strong believer that we’re not here to pour spiritual Pablum into anybody,” she said. “I believe God gave us a brain to think and to wrestle with thoughts, ideas and concepts, and that it’s not offensive to God when we do that, but it’s offensive to God when we do not. If God had wanted us to all say the same thing, God would not have given us free will or a free mind.”
Calling out an invitation to folks on the search for a church, Rev. Rollin finished, “Anybody is welcome here — and I mean that. People do not all have to believe the same way. I think that’s important. The challenge of learning and growing spiritually is important. I see my role as trying to encourage that while we’re all on our very different paths.”